President Trump may have hit a roadblock when North Korea's Kim Jong Un refused to meet his demands at Thursday's Hanoi summit, but Trump’s decision to walk away could serve to rattle China’s Xi Jinping.
Gordon Chang, an expert on the region and author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” argued that what on the surface looked like a diplomatic stalemate could in fact be a diplomatic coup for Trump when it comes to North Korea's neighbor.
“I think this is a moment of reassessment for China,” Chang said.
Trump announced overnight that there’d be no deal in Vietnam because Kim was “unprepared” to fully denuclearize in exchange for the full removal of U.S.-led sanctions. Trump held a press conference where he said, “Sometimes you have to walk.”
Chang told Fox News that Trump also showed Beijing that he is not afraid to walk away from a bad deal amid trade talks and, in doing so, put added pressure on Xi, whose popularity appears to be waning due to the country’s economic stagnation. Chang said Xi has found himself in a “no win” situation: either he agrees to abandon the country’s “selfish” model or he continues to watch the economy suffer.
Trump recently postponed increasing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods that would have been effective March 2. He has not given a new date for higher tariffs if negotiations falter.
The main sticking point for the U.S. centers on ending cyber theft of commercial secrets, limiting state support for Chinese companies, and ending the forced transfer of technology.
Chang said the Trump administration was wise to pass on an invitation from China to visit after the Hanoi summit.
“I think China has to reassess their approach to trade talks,” Chang said.