The 19th Party Congress is set to take place from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24. Going by precedent, North Korea may either launch a ballistic missile or carry out a nuclear test on the opening day of the Congress or sometime during the seven-day meeting period.
Prior 2017 instances: On April 4, Pyongyang launched a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Two days later, Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump had their first face-to-face meeting in Florida.
On Sept. 3, the Kim Jong Un regime tested its sixth nuclear bomb just as Xi was preparing to address the leaders of BRICS countries in Fujian Province.
Both tests appear to be timed to embarrass Xi before the important meetings.
The big picture: Based on our research, North Korea’s nuclear tests have occurred around periods when Jiang Zemin’s political faction is facing internal or external perils. Jiang and his factional elites have a warm relationship with the Kim family, and the Jiang faction appears to be influencing Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations.
The Jiang faction is in danger of elimination if Xi gets his way with key personnel appointments at the 19th Congress.
What’s next: Should Kim continue with his nuclear brinkmanship during the 19th Congress, Xi and Trump may decide on further punitive action against Pyongyang when Trump visits Beijing from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10. According to a White House press release, Trump plans to “call on the international community to join together in maximizing pressure on North Korea” while in Asia.
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