Reports on the Sunnylands Summit between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama last week have hailed progress in Sino-American cooperation on North Korea. That’s fair enough, but to understand what that progress consisted of-and what it did not-it might be useful to step back for a moment and place it in the context of recent history.
For a period of time starting in George W. Bush’s second term, it seemed as though US-PRC cooperation on North Korea policy stood out as, in effect, a poster child of shared national interests and coordinated national efforts. It wasn’t that the two countries had identical goals or priorities; from a strategic perspective they did not. Even so, both insisted on denuclearization of the DPRK and both sought to resolve the matter through diplomacy and avoidance of conflict on the Korean peninsula.
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