orth Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has suddenly become quite the world traveler, stopping by China for a two-day visit following his historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore.
During his first seven years in power, Kim lived up to his title as the leader of the “Hermit Kingdom,” never once leaving the borders of his cloistered nation. However, he now appears to have bitten by the travel bug. This marks Kim’s third trip to China this year. Previously, he met with Xi in Beijing in March before taking a more intimate seaside stroll with the Chinese president in Dalian in May.
The security measures surrounding these visits appear to be getting more and more relaxed. Kim made his first trip to China via bulletproof mystery train while his second came by air. As NPR’s Anthony Kuhn notes, Chinese state media have even publicly announced this third visit with Kim still in the country.
Since when did Chinese media announce a North Korean leader’s visit to China before it’s over?! This CCTV bulletin says Kim Jong UN will be in China on June 19th through 20th. Feeling a bit more secure these days? pic.twitter.com/NaeSDL0pyt
— Anthony Kuhn (@akuhnNPRnews) June 19, 2018
Most assume that Kim is back in China to talk to Xi about the outcomes of the Singapore summit. While opinions about the success of that summit for the US and North Korea remain divided, most agree that China ended up as the real winner in Singapore with Trump announcing the suspension of joint military drills with South Korea, calling the exercises “provocative,” and even alluding to pulling US troops out of the Korean Peninsula.
Such measures would fit neatly into China’s own gameplan for decreasing tensions in the region—a “freeze for freeze” formula that has called for the US to cease joint-military exercises in return for North Korea stopping all nuclear tests, resulting in a more peaceful peninsula with reduced American influence while also bringing into question the commitment of the US to its Asian allies.