“If tensions ratchet up between the United States and North Korea, then China will end up in the middle, being seen as working closely with the country which is the problem, not giving up its nuclear weapons,” Glaser said.
Despite Trump’s repeated allegations that Xi had encouraged Kim to push back against the Americans, Glaser said it was highly unlikely the Chinese President wanted to sabotage the summit.
At worst, she said it was possible Xi had wanted the North Koreans to demand an end to the US South Korean drills, in line with Beijing’s policy. “I don’t really see how this plays to China’s advantage,” she said.
An opportunity for Japan
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on his way to Moscow
to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin when the news of the summit’s cancellation was announced.
In recent months, Abe has been reaching out diplomatically to countries in the region, including China and Russia, to avoid being left out
of the new diplomatic order on the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking in St Petersberg on Friday, Abe said while he was disappointed in Trump’s decision, he continued to support the US President. “We are in complete sync on our policies,” he said, adding he would be hoping to speak to Trump once he returned to Japan.
Koichi Nakano, professor of Political Science at Sophia University, told CNN the cancellation could be an opportunity for Abe.
“He may even try to use the current impasse as a vindication of his emphasis on pressure (on North Korea),” Nakano said, adding the Japanese PM could leverage the news to push his pro-military domestic policies.
Japan’s newspapers were divided on where to cast the blame for the summit’s cancellation.
The liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper called in its editorial for Trump to “not close the door of dialogue” while the conservative Sankei paper said Kim had underestimated the United States.
Yuka Arakawa, a 47-year-old accountant told CNN in Tokyo, she was shocked by the summit’s cancellation. “Progress was being made because it was President Trump. I still have hope that there is a chance to make the summit happen, despite this tough situation,” she said.
In public statements, both Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga displayed little disappointment at the development.
“What is important is not having the summit itself, but how the summit will serve as a chance to make progress on the missile and nuclear issue,” Suga said.
Both Suga and Abe stressed the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea as the “most important” issue to Tokyo.
Both men called for the continuation of dialogue over the Korean Peninsula, with the cabinet secretary emphasizing the close relationship between the United States, South Korea and Japan.