Beijing: There is no denying the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping does not like surprises. That hasn’t stopped Kim Jong Un or President Donald Trump.
Few days back, hours before the Chinese president delivered a keynote speech on his country’s diplomatic prowess, North Korea tested a nuclear bomb, stealing his spotlight.
Then, as China’s media not able to keep the spotlight on Xi, Trump woke up and weighed in, tweeting that North Korea has become a “great threat and embarrassment to China.”
Trump later on announced that U.S. has pretty much made up his mind to cut trade with all countries that do business with North Korea – including, presumably, China.
When asked by mediapersons regarding the trade tweet, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, called it “unacceptable.”
The unwelcome clearly depicts just what Xi is up against as he decides how to react to North Korea’s provocations and pressure from an unpredictable U.S. president, while also preparing for a twice-a-decade political meeting next month.
“China has been cornered,” pointed out Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing. “I’m afraid of what we are facing now, we are at the stage of a showdown.”
Xi does not want a showdown. The National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which starts Oct. 18, will be a key moment in his presidency. It is a chance for him to prove he has consolidated power and has a plan for the years ahead. The meeting is years, not months, in the making; very little is left to chance.
“With the congress coming up, this is the last thing China wants,” said Adam Cathcart, a lecturer at Britain’s University of Leeds. “You’ve got a bomb coming and banging on his podium.”
It is worthwhile pointing out that there was a time that China and North Korea were communist brothers-at-arms – but that time is long gone. China, like the United States and the rest of the world, is both frustrated with and frightened by Kim.
“We all knew that President Xi was to make a speech at the BRICS summit today and North Korea chose this time to conduct testing, especially H-bomb testing,” said Renmin’s Cheng. The timing, he said, is “inconceivable.”