Pyongyang's missile barrage: Part of Xi's chess match?

Gunshots heard one evening last January in Canton, Ohio, had police rushing to a residence where an AR-15 rifle was indiscriminately being fired into the air. As a tall fence blocked their view into the backyard, officers fired through the fence, hitting the shooter, James Williams, 46. Williams was conducting a family tradition of ringing in the New Year with gunfire, unconcerned as to where the rounds fell. He died honoring a foolish family tradition.

Imagine this same scenario but with missiles being fired recklessly into the air. This happened on Nov. 2 as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un launched 23 missiles within a single day. They fell into international waters on both sides of the Korean Peninsula, one impacting just south of the Northern Limit Line, a de facto inter-Korean maritime border the North does not recognize. On Nov. 3, Kim launched an ICBM over his eastern waters. On Nov. 9, yet another missile was launched, crashing into the sea after a 250 kilometer flight. Recovered underwater debris revealed it to be a Soviet-era SA-5 surface-to-air missile. It is believed all this is to be followed by a nuclear test in the weeks ahead – the first since 2017.

Kim’s missile launch was reckless, with no prior warning to Seoul. While the missiles fell harmlessly into the sea, there was always the risk ships and boats operating in the impact area might get hit. Prior warning was important too just in case an errant missile impacted where it was not supposed to. Additionally, the North could easily have provoked the South into taking defensive action, fearing an attack was underway.

What then would possess Kim to launch a bevy of missiles in this manner?

While the exercise was an obvious test of the North’s missile system, the failure to give notice to the South due to existing tensions between them was just as foolish as the actions of the late Mr. Williams. Pyongyang will undoubtedly claim justification to test its missiles, although doing so violates U.N. Security Council resolutions. Additionally, it will claim its actions are in response to a joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise recently conducted.

There is probably an ulterior motive as well for Kim’s aggressive actions.

China is at the top of a very short list of Pyongyang’s friends. Its influence over Kim was obvious after Donald Trump was elected president. Kim made an unprecedented three trips to China within a three month period – two before meeting with Trump and one after – most likely to strategize.

But with a weak-kneed President Joe Biden in the White House now, did China see an opportunity to use Kim as a pawn in its chess match with the West over Taiwan? With an ongoing Russia/Ukraine war, with threats that Iran may attack Saudi Arabia and with U.S. relations with China at an all-time low, Beijing perhaps sought to underscore for Washington it had additional concerns to worry about should it be thinking about defending Taiwan against a Beijing takeover.

Strengthening this logic is the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping recently wrote Kim a letter stating the importance of enhanced communications and strengthening the relationship between the two countries. Xi’s letter underscored working with Kim in “defending peace and stability in the region and the rest of the world.”

Obviously, Kim’s missile barrage did nothing to maintain “stability in the region.” Clearly, after receiving Xi’s letter, Kim would not do anything without consulting with China so as not to offend Xi. This strongly suggests Kim’s actions received Xi’s blessing.

Beijing likely sought to create the perception America needed to consider the possibility of confronting multi-front conflicts should China invade Taiwan. With Biden’s foreign policy team already bouncing three balls in the air – Russia, China and Iran – why not introduce a fourth into the mix – North Korea – as well?

A chaotic world stimulates authoritarian aggression. While Kim is smart enough to know not to attack the South for now, he is happy, as China’s puppet, to assist it by beating war drums on the Korean Peninsula to worry the U.S. about the possibility.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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