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The Hanoi summit between President Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un had been expected to deliver concrete results on the nuclear negotiations and/or US-North Korea bilateral relations. Widely speculated outcomes had included partial denuclearization by North Korea in exchange for partial easing of US economic sanctions on the country; a declaration of the end of the Korean War; and even an exchange of liaison offices between Washington and Pyongyang. The speculation was so vivid that many observers and analysts were startled when the summit ended abruptly without any concrete statement or agreement. China is no exception to that astonishment. Before the summit, Beijing was of the belief that an incomplete deal over the nuclear issue and some level of improvement of relations between the US and North Korea was in the offing. The level of improvement was expected to be limited, which would offer Beijing a sense of manageability of the path moving forward. However, when the Hanoi summit fell through, Beijing had to recalculate its implications and the best approach ahead.

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