Photos: Bloomberg, Getty; photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg

Balance of Power: Why Won’t Xi Deal With North Korea?

Donald Trump’s plan to get China’s Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea always had a big flaw: Xi doesn’t see Kim Jong Un as his problem to fix.

So President Trump may find Xi pushing back if he tries to raise the pressure on him to do something when the two leaders meet at this week’s Group of 20 summit in Germany, Bloomberg’s Ting Shi reports. Kim’s successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday changes little for Xi, even if it’s raising alarm bells in the U.S.

True, Beijing doesn’t want a nuclear-armed North Korea. But what it’s most worried about is conflict with the U.S. And continuing to play the middle man for Kim risks dragging China into a broader confrontation with an increasingly angry America.

So as tensions rise, Xi may try put the onus back on Trump and suggest that the U.S. and North Korea hold direct negotiations. The idea isn’t that far fetched. Trump told Bloomberg earlier this year that he might just be prepared to sit down with Kim.

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Trump welcoming Xi to Mar-a-Lago in April.
Photographer: JIM WATSON/AFP

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And finally... Backpackers and brides-to-be may be unwitting supporters of North Korea. For reasons dating back to the Cold War, Kim’s regime occupies a number of spacious embassies in Eastern Europe, and diplomats often run lucrative sideline businesses out of them. There’s a hostel in Berlin, apricot-hued wedding rooms in Sofia and a sound studio in Warsaw. As David Tweed reports, cracking down on the illicit activity is easier said than done. Western officials worry that any such move would endanger their own diplomats in Pyongyang.

The entrance to the North Korean embassy compound in Sofia, Bulgaria on June 19.
Photographer: Slav Okov/Bloomberg
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