US President Donald Trump appears to have had a number of epiphanies recently, including the profound realization, brought on by a brief conversation with his Chinese counterpart, that the situation in North Korea is actually pretty complicated.
Before his first meeting with Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump was of the belief that China could easily deal with the North Korean threat. But, he appears to have changed his mind after the Chinese president politely explained some Chinese-Korean history to him.
“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea… But it’s not what you would think.”
Still, it’s not clear how much this new realization will inform Trump’s thinking. Earlier this week he tweeted that he told Xi that all China had to do to get a better trade deal with the US is “solve the North Korean problem.”
Prior to his meeting with Xi last week, Trump had said that China had “great influence” over Pyongyang and could solve the crisis if it wanted to. Earlier on the campaign trail, Trump even went so far as to assert that once president he would get China to make dictator Kim Jong-un “disappear in one form or another very quickly.”
Trump has been even more erratic than usual recently, flip-flopping on six key issues on Wednesday alone. In just over a week, China has gone from the “world champions” of currency manipulation to “not currency manipulators” at all, in the president’s mind.
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