Following Trump visit, China sending envoy to North Korea
BEIJING (AP) — Following President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing, China said Wednesday it is sending a high-level special envoy to North Korea amid an extended chill in relations between the neighbors over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Song Tao, the head of China’s ruling Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to report on outcomes of the party’s national congress held last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Xinhua made no mention of Trump’s visit or the North’s weapons programs, although Trump has repeatedly called on Beijing to do more to use its influence to pressure Pyongyang into altering its behavior.
Song would be the first ministerial- level Chinese official to visit North Korea since October 2015 when Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan visited Pyongyang and met with leader Kim Jong Un. Liu delivered a letter to Kim from Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) expressing hopes for a strong relationship, although the respite in frosty ties proved short lived. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin visited Pyongyang in October of last year.
China’s Communist Party and North Korea’s ruling Worker’s Party have longstanding ties that often supersede formal diplomacy, even while Beijing has long been frustrated with Pyongyang’s provocations and unwillingness to reform its economy.