Xi to make state visit to NK
By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/17 19:30:17
China to further highlight unique influence on Korean Peninsula issue
Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit North Korea on Thursday and Friday. Experts noted that making such a significant visit before the convening of the G20 summit in Japan shows that China is trying to further highlight its unique influence in pushing forward the peace process on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.
At the invitation of Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will pay a state visit to the DPRK from Thursday to Friday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
This will mark Xi's first visit to North Korea after Kim visited China four times within a year.
The last state visit made by a Chinese president to the country was in 2005 by then president Hu Jintao at the invitation of the former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Zheng Jiyong, director of the center for Korean studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday that Xi's scheduled visit will further improve the traditional friendship between the two countries and will also promote the peaceful solution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue as North Korea and the US continue to face a deadlock following the unsuccessful summit in Hanoi, Vietnam three months ago.
"Due to sanctions based on UN Security Council resolutions and unilateral sanctions launched by the US and Japan, the North Korean economy and people's living conditions have been seriously damaged. North Korea desperately needs assistance from its most reliable neighbor to boost economic cooperation without violating security council resolutions," Zheng noted.
North Korea is also interested in discussing concrete plans to be included in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Beijing's desire for Pyongyang to persist on denuclearization and focus on economic development could also be key topics during the upcoming visit, Zheng noted.
Yu Shaohua, director of the Asia-Pacific Institute at the Beijing-based China Institute of International Studies, said that "after the unsuccessful summit in Hanoi, North Korea has become less optimistic on denuclearization and developing ties with the US."
"External acknowledgement of its denuclearization is extremely important to keep North Korea on the right track," she said.
Xi's visit will send a strong and clear signal to not only North Korea but also the world that China acknowledges North Korea's denuclearization efforts and will keep helping it solve security and political concerns through economic cooperation, Yu told the Global Times on Monday.
China invited North Korean delegations to attend the first and second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017 and 2019, and North Korea also expressed strong interest by sending ministerial-level officials to attend the forums.
China and North Korea can still find many areas of cooperation even as the UN Security Council resolutions remain unchanged, and China will continue to persuade other Security Council members to invoke "reversible provisions" on the resolutions to encourage North Korea to do more on denuclearization, Yu noted.
As the annual G20 summit will take place in Osaka, Japan from June 28 to 29, Chinese observers believe that making such a significant diplomatic move about a week ahead of the G20 shows that China is trying to further highlight its unique influence in mediating between the US and North Korea.
North Korea-US ties are in a deadlock following the Hanoi summit, and the Chinese leader will likely meet the leaders of the two countries by the end of June, so China is creating an important chance for the key parties of the nuclear issue to break their deadlock, Zheng said.
"There is no country like China with a unique and important influence over the peninsular issue, and this diplomatic move could also stabilize China-US relations, since the US also needs China's cooperation to push the peninsula's peace process," Zheng noted.
New era for bilateral ties
Chinese experts who visited North Korea a week ago said Pyongyang is preparing to welcome the Chinese leader's state visit, as renovations are being made to the DPRK-China Friendship Monument Tower and buildings along the highway from the airport to the city center.
Zheng, who also visited North Korea a week ago, told the Global Times that "North Korea has improved services to Chinese tourists who visit martyr cemeteries of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army. Academic exchanges between us and their scholars have also opened up, without 'forbidden topics,' which is truly unprecedented."
As October 6, 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and North Korea, Chinese analysts noted that the bilateral relationship is entering a new era.
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