China: U.S. Soldier ‘Defecting’ into North Korea ‘Embarrassing’ for Joe Biden

china us soldier defecting into north korea embarrassing for joe biden
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Chinese government newspaper Global Times described a strange incident on Tuesday in which an American citizen ran into North Korea while on a tour of the Korean border as an “embarrassment” for America and the Korean policy of President Joe Biden, particularly during a time of heightened tensions.

The analysis, in a column published on Thursday, is the first English-language commentary from the Chinese government on the incident. China is North Korea’s closest ally and has defended the communist Pyongyang regime in the past month in the face of North Korean officials increasingly threatening to launch a nuclear war, shoot down American warplanes, and engage in other belligerent activity.

On Tuesday — the same day South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol threatened to “end” the communist North Korean regime while aboard an American nuclear submarine, the USS Kentucky — an American soldier, later identified as 23-year-old Private 2nd Class Travis King, visited the border “peace village” of Panmunjom that straddles North and South Korea on a tour. According to eyewitnesses, he abruptly started laughing and ran across the border into the North.

“This man gives out a loud ‘ha ha ha,’ and just runs in between some buildings,” one of the other members of the tour reportedly told CBS News. “I thought it was a bad joke at first, but when he didn’t come back, I realized it wasn’t a joke, and then everybody reacted, and things got crazy.”

china us soldier defecting into north korea embarrassing for joe biden

Private 2nd Class Travis King is being detained by North Korea after he crossed the border into the country. (Carl Gates)

King’s whereabouts and condition remain a mystery at press time, though American authorities have stated they believe he is in North Korean military custody.

The Global Times suggested that King’s actions, which the Pentagon has stressed were “unauthorized” and unrelated to his duties as a soldier, undermined Biden’s attempts to contain North Korea’s threats. Identifying the USS Kentucky‘s port of call in Busan as a message against China and Russia, the government propaganda outlet said the submarine “was ironically shadowed by the news of its [America’s] own soldier who fled to the other side of the 38th parallel.”

On the same day [as Yoon’s tour of the Kentucky], an American soldier, at the time of his rotation in South Korea and reportedly facing disciplinary action, fled across the demarcation line into North Korea on Tuesday,” the Global Times observed. “It must be an embarrassment for the US.”

The state newspaper accused Biden of having “repudiated his predecessor’s policy” on North Korea, noting that former President Donald Trump maintained regular communication with Pyongyang and met with dictator Kim Jong-un on multiple occasions. Trump became the first American president in history to visit North Korea when he crossed the border at Panmunjom, where King also crossed, in 2019.

china us soldier defecting into north korea embarrassing for joe biden

President Donald Trump walks to the North Korean side of the border with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone on June 30, 2019, in North Korea. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“A few years after the historic handshake between leaders of the US and North Korea, the sitting US president Joe Biden is showing his different approach toward the Korean Peninsula,” the Chinese newspaper noted. “He repudiated his predecessor’s policy and prefers coercive diplomacy when dealing with Pyongyang in an attempt to reach ‘denuclearization of the peninsula.’ This is mission impossible.”

Prior to Thursday, the Global Times suggested that King’s entry into North Korea was a potential “defection” out of America and could grant the communist regime leverage with Washington, as American governments tend to endeavor to free citizens trapped abroad.

“Chinese analysts said on Wednesday that the incident, which they believe could be a defection, might force Washington to engage with Pyongyang,” the newspaper claimed, citing its usual stable of Chinese Communist Party-friendly experts. “The latest incident could be a chance for the parties involved to try to ease tensions by resuming communication. However, if the US fails to handle it properly, it could also worsen the tension, experts warned.”

china us soldier defecting into north korea embarrassing for joe biden

Barricades are placed near the Unification Bridge, which leads to the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, on July 19, 2023. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

One of those experts, identified as academic Lü Chao, described the “defection” as a wake-up call for the Biden administration. While the Global Times described Biden’s approach to North Korea as aggressive on Thursday, a day before, Lü suggested on its pages that Biden had little to no North Korea policy at all.

“The Biden administration has ignored the Korean Peninsula issue for a very long time even though tension is ratcheting up. This time Washington might be forced to pay attention to and get in touch with Pyongyang amid the rising tension,” Lü said.

Biden has largely failed to engage North Korea during his tenure. Since the inauguration of South Korea’s President Yoon last year, however, Seoul and Washington have increased cooperation. As part of the Washington Declaration, a joint document Yoon and Biden signed during Yoon’s visit to Washington in April, the two established a Nuclear Consultative Group to give South Korea more information and agency regarding the American nuclear assets stationed there. Biden also agreed to send the Kentucky to Busan, the first American nuclear submarine in Korea since 1941, as part of the declaration. The White House agreed to the deal after Yoon publicly suggested pursuing his own nuclear weapons program.

china us soldier defecting into north korea embarrassing for joe biden

President Joe Biden and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol shake hands after a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 26, 2023, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Prior to the Kentucky‘s arrival, North Korea responded to the Washington Declaration last week with the test of what it claimed to be a new model intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-18.

“A series of stronger military offensive [sic] will be launched until the U.S. imperialists and the south [sic] Korean puppet traitors admit their shameful defeat,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news outlet in North Korea, declared. A United Nations expert told the Security Council last week that the global institutions experts believed the Hwasong-18 “can reach most points on earth.”

China, a permanent member of the Security Council, defended the development of the ICBM during the Council’s meeting to address the situation last week.

“China has taken note of the DPRK’s recent launch. Meanwhile, we are also concerned about the heightened military pressure and repeated dispatches of strategic weapons by a certain country to carry out military activities on the Korean Peninsula,” Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said, referring to America.

“The United States and other countries have long regarded the DPRK as a security threat and are obsessed with sanctions and applying pressure on it, which has put the DPRK under an enormous security threat and existential pressure,” he added.

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Authored by Frances Martel via Breitbart July 20th 2023