Last year during punditry discussions of North Korea, the traditional crowd were waxing philosophically about military expansionism, and the threat of nuclear war as a likely outcome.
However, all of those Gordian-knot sellers held references from a fundamentally flawed foundation; they viewed the DPRK as a separate nation from China. There were a few voices who challenged geopolitical orthodoxy and presented a different view; the DPRK as a proxy province of China.
When you think of North Korea as a proxy province of China, everything changes. Every possible action and consequence changes. If the DPRK is inherently a proxy province of Beijing, then North Korea already had nuclear weapons; or at least access to nuclear weapons as needed; the argument to stop them was moot.
Additionally, if Beijing was structurally and factually controlling Pyongyang, attaining a peaceful Korean peninsula between Kim Jong-un and his South Korean neighbor Moon Jae-in, was entirely different.
The first step in removing the ruse is to treat China as having full control over the problem.
Now, it must be pointed out that no-one prior to President Trump would have ever gamed-out how to do this. Heck, no-one prior to President Trump would ever admit that North Korea was essentially a proxy province of China.
The paradigm shift therein is so consequential, as evidenced in the 2017 analysis of doom, none of the intellectual set could/would even fathom it. Hence, almost none of the smart set could/would accurately discuss how to solve the issue, or even understand what POTUS Trump was doing. In essence their points of debate were built upon a false premise.
Hopefully, with hindsight now becoming less opaque, more people are realizing the outcome(s) today are entirely because the Trump approach was looking at a different problem. President Trump’s solution came from accepting a relationship that was factually evident. This is what happened.
Almost no western (U.S. or EU) media seem to understand the historic concepts behind the cultures of communist China and Asia in the world of strategic politics. Because they don’t understand the outlook, U.S. media cannot fathom solving problems.
There is no doubt President Trump thought out a long-term strategy regarding North Korea and China. The approach was evident in how President Trump presented his messaging toward the people of China. He clearly understood Beijing’s preferred panda image was a mask.
President Trump played the game and very publicly discussed friendship toward Chairman Xi Jinping. Consistent praise for Chairman Xi based on his character, strength and purposeful leadership retained the panda approach.
To build upon that projected and strategic message – President Trump seeded the background by appointing Ambassador Terry Branstad, a 30-year personal friend of President Xi Jinping.
To enhance and amplify the message President Trump used Mar-a-Lago as the venue for their first visit, not the White House. And President Trump’s beautiful granddaughter, Arabella, sweetly serenaded the Chinese First Family twice in Mandarin Chinese song showing the utmost respect for the guests and later for the hosts.
Why the constant warm messaging? What was the purpose? What did all this have to do with a geopolitical confrontation, and North Korea?
It’s really rather simple actually. President Trump played to the panda image, while understanding that Beijing fully controlled Pyongyang – the red dragon aspect.
Historic Chinese geopolitical policy, vis-a-vis their totalitarian control over political consequences, and their diplomacy through silence, is evident in the strategic use of the space between carefully chosen words, not just the words themselves.
Each time China takes aggressive action (red dragon), or instructs an aggressive action to take place (via Kim Jong-un), China projects a panda face through silence and non-response to opinion of that action;…. and the action continues. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The red dragon will say one necessary thing publicly, while manipulating another necessary thing completely privately. The Art of War.
President Trump was the first U.S. President to understand how the red dragon hides behind the panda mask and plays the same game. It was specifically because Trump understood the Panda is a mask that President Trump messages warmth toward the Chinese people, and pours vociferous praise upon Xi Jinping, while simultaneously confronting the geopolitical doctrine -the outcomes- of the Xi regime.
In essence President Trump mirrored the behavior of Chairman Xi while confronting their economic and military duplicity within North Korea.
China has no cultural or political space between peace and war; they are a historic nation based on two points of polarity. They see peace and war as coexisting with each other.
China accepts and believes opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Flowing between these polar states is a natural dynamic to be used -with serious contemplation- in advancing objectives as needed.
Peace or war. Win or lose. Yin and Yang. Culturally there is no middle position in dealings with China; they are not constitutionally capable of understanding or valuing the western philosophy of mutual benefit where concession of terms gains a larger outcome. If it does not benefit China, it is not done. The outlook is simply, a polarity of peace or war. In politics or economics the same perspective is true. It is a zero-sum outlook.
As an outcome, China has now begun openly displaying the relationship with North Korea previously kept hidden.
Technically, there is no denuclearization of North Korea because China has nuclear weapons and China always controlled North Korea. However, President Trump has removed the veil covering the secret without technically confronting it head-on.
In the future, North Korea will likely be as much of a communist system as China. The key changes will be the action inside the buffer-zone between communism (China, Chairman Xi Jinping) and democracy (South Korea, President Moon Jae-in).
This new reality we see today the first official notation of Kim Jong-un as “Chairman” Kim Jong-un:
North Korea will now enter a geopolitical phase of economic activity and expansion similar to China 1995 through today. Chairman Xi (Big Panda), will guide his protégé Chairman Kim (Little Panda) in all matters of strategic economics, thereby guaranteeing the continuance of his influence.
It will be interesting to watch how the North Korean people interact with the South Korean people. A similar litmus or reference point, albeit not as stark, was available in how Beijing interacted with Hong Kong when China took over.
The natural flow of freedom is toward organic expansion if not held-down by controlling and oppressive government.