This is an update of something I wrote before beginning this site:
As President Trump begins his trip to Asia, I don’t discount the possibility that the President has made headway with regard to North Korea. (I note that Thae Yong-Ho, a North Korean diplomat defector, indicated on the PBS Newshour this past week that he did believe that the President’s rhetoric had had some deterrent effect on Kim Jong Un). North Korea will obviously be the primary topic when Presidents Trump and Xi meet; although Mr. Xi’s current position is very strong while Mr. Trump’s position is clearly politically challenged, if Mr. Trump has and continues to privately indicate to President Xi that “If you don’t do something about this, I will,” I’d take that comment seriously if I were Mr. Xi given Mr. Trump’s unpredictability. However — particularly given Mr. Thae’s view that any attack by the U.S. on North Korea would result in a full-scale war on the peninsula — it seems that the only true solution to the North Korean problem is regime change from the inside. We don’t have people on the inside that, with appropriate support, can bring about regime change, but I’d guess that the Chinese do; a Chinese puppet atop North Korea would undoubtedly be preferable to us as well as to the Chinese. However, an effort like this, if it is indeed being undertaken, will undoubtedly take months, and it seems likely that Mr. Xi was unwilling to do anything that might upset the status quo until his power was reaffirmed and enhanced at the recent Chinese Communist National Congress. Mr. Kim clearly has superlative antennae for survival, and certainly has to be attuned to the possibility of a Chinese move against him; it would seem that the Chinese will not want to move so quickly as to look like they’ve consorted with the Americans against an ally.