Ryan Hass, a fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings, discusses two important announcements that may be lost in the focus on the U.S.-North Korea standoff: China’s announcement that it will ban North Korea’s top export items; and the Trump administration’s announcement that it will begin the process of determining if China is engaging in unfair trade practices.
Hass says that despite President Trump’s “fire and fury” comment, “the fundamentals of the situation on the Korean peninsula have not changed,” and that the U.S.-China relationship remains the “most consequential bilateral relationship” in the world.
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[President Trump’s public showmanship on North Korea] is creating a huge buzz where everyone wants to know what’s going on and what comes next...It’s a very dramatic way of conducting foreign policy and national security. But it creates a thin veneer of understanding. It’s mostly about symbolism...[Trump’s focus is] very much getting the public involved and invested in what’s going on. That’s the way you shape the narrative...[South Korea President] Moon is doing something similar. By televising the summit, televising the meetings, he’s creating an intimacy between the viewer and the object.