Power Play

North Korea a pawn in US-China rivalry, or game master?

There is the view that Beijing uses Pyongyang to irritate Washington, while others see North Korea as playing the two giants against each other for its own gains.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting with politburo members on Jan 19, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

Just days into 2022, North Korea is ratcheting up tensions with a flurry of missile tests and protesting against fresh sanctions imposed by its "enemy" - the United States.

At the same time, the regime is sending trains to China's border city of Dandong to quietly bring home medical supplies and other necessities. This is said to be the first trade exchange between the two friendly neighbours since Pyongyang shut its borders 1½ years ago to block the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already a subscriber? 

Dive deeper at $0.99/month

Want more exclusives, sharp insights into what's happening at home and abroad? Subscribe to stay informed.

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • 2-week e-paper archive so you never miss out on any topic that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.