On April 7, two superpowers met in Florida. At Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the US president met with Xi Jinping to discuss two pressing issues – trade between the US and China and the denuclearization of North Korea.
The denuclearization of North Korea was a huge topic. Just a few days after the meeting, both the US and Chinese governments showed militaristic movements near North Korea. Chinese military action was observed near the Duman river, a boundary between North Korea and China.
The US’s nuclear powered USS Carl Vinson started off from the port of Singapore. Its plan was to go past Indonesia and arrive at Australia. But when it shifted its path and moved towards North Korea, movements from both countries seem to be warnings towards North Korea about its nuclear programs. President Trump, after bombing an airbase in Syria, warned that North Korea may be the next target.
Xi Jinping, the president of China, also promised to help solve the nuclear problem in North Korea. Immediately after the meeting, China put economic sanctions on North Korea. They stopped the importing of North Korean coal and banned Chinese citizens from traveling around North Korea. The Chinese Guanying media proposed a potential to cut crude oil supplies to North Korea. If this sanction is enacted, the result would be devastating for North Korea, which imports 80% of its oil from China. In response, a North Korean representative at the United Nations declared at a press conference that “North Korea will not beg for peace”, nor backoff.
Due to these militaristic movements and tense responses, people in surrounding nations are fearful of the possibility of war, and politicians are using this to their advantage. For example, South Korean presidential candidates call themselves the “true protector[s] of the country” during political campaigns.
In Japan, Prime minister Shinzo Abe’s poll support decreased drastically due to recent scandals about corrupt officials. However, as these events took place, Abe was quick to talk about a preparation of war and escape plans for Japanese citizens residing in South Korea. He also proposed cooperative military plans with the US to help South Korea. After his proposals were made, his decreasing approval rating stopped, and Abe also won the support of up to 60% of his cabinet.
North Korea however, doesn’t seem to be wavering in their efforts as they continue to celebrate the anniversary of their military and continue to brag about their weaponry and ballistic capabilities.