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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump's decision to cancel the North Korea summit is bad news for China — because it's in China's interest for Trump and Kim Jong-un to talk.

What's next: If the summit is truly off, the U.S. will likely double down on pushing for strict implementation of all UN sanctions and continue the "maximum pressure" campaign to squeeze North Korea into submission. China has only joined those efforts reluctantly, and has been hoping they would ease off with the Trump-Kim dialogue.

The intrigue: Trump said this week that he believes Kim's attitude towards the summit changed after Kim's meeting with Xi Jinping in early May.

The official Chinese coverage at the time made it clear that Kim was not planning on immediate, complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. As Xinhua noted in its May 8 report:

Kim expressed the hope that the DPRK and the United States would build mutual trust through dialogue and relevant sides would take phased and synchronous measures in a responsible manner so as to comprehensively advance the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and eventually achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula.

The big picture: If the talks really are off, and Trump believes Xi helped derail them, expect a further downward turn in U.S.-China relations. Trump has deferred tougher actions against China across a range of issues, including trade and the South China Sea, in the hopes of securing China's cooperation to solve the North Korea situation.

A tougher approach might include (but not be limited to):

  1. A scrapping of many of the concessions on tariffs.
  2. Renewed threats of U.S. sanctions against Chinese banks and state-owned oil companies if the "maximum pressure" campaign against North Korea is not maintained.
  3. More robust U.S. efforts in the South China Sea to push back on China's expansion there.
  4. A visit to Taiwan by National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Go deeper

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."