North Ko­rea’s FM be­gins China visit

▶ Ri to seek Bei­jing’s ad­vice on re­solv­ing nu­clear is­sue: ex­pert

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Yang Sheng

North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Yong-ho ar­rived in Bei­jing on Thurs­day for the start of his four-day visit to China, with Chi­nese an­a­lysts say­ing China would dis­cuss the po­ten­tial ma­jor events on the Korean Penin­sula is­sue next year, in­clud­ing the sec­ond North Ko­rea-US sum­mit and the visit to North Ko­rea by China’s lead­ers.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Geng Shuang said at Thurs­day’s rou­tine press con­fer­ence that ma­jor ar­ranged ac­tiv­i­ties for Ri’s visit will take place on Fri­day, in re­sponse to whether Ri would meet Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

Lü Chao, di­rec­tor of the Liaon­ing Academy of So­cial Sciences’ Research In­sti­tute for the Border­land, told the Global Times on Thurs­day, “Due to the US’ stance on de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, the de­vel­op­ment of North Ko­rea-US ties and so­lu­tion of the nu­clear is­sue have been bogged down, and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul is also be­ing dis­puted in South Ko­rea. So at this mo­ment, North Ko­rea needs to hear China’s ad­vice to find new break­throughs.”

Aside from the penin­sula is­sue, China-North Ko­rea ties are also sig­nif­i­cant, Wang Jun­sheng, a research fel­low on East Asian Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences in Bei­jing, told the Global Times on Thurs­day.

“Kim fre­quently vis­ited China in 2018, and eco­nomic and cul­tural ex­changes be­tween the two coun­tries are also in­creas­ing. So to what ex­tent China will sup­port North Ko­rea on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and even in­clude North Ko­rea in the China-pro­posed Belt and Road ini­tia­tive are also cru­cial to Ri’s visit,” Wang said.

Ri and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part will likely dis­cuss the pos­si­ble vis­its by Chi­nese lead­ers to Py­ongyang next year, since Kim has al­ready vis­ited China mul­ti­ple times this year, Lü said.

Be­fore his trip to China, Ri vis­ited Syria and Viet­nam, and there are re­ports that North Ko­rea is try­ing to learn de­vel­op­ment meth­ods from Viet­nam, the Voice of Amer­ica re­ported on Mon­day.

North Ko­rea has shifted its pri­or­ity from a nu­clear pro­gram to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and China ex­pressed “full sup­port” for this de­ci­sion, Lü said. “The prob­lem is that due to res­o­lu­tions passed by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, sanc­tions against North Ko­rea re­main. China might con­sider con­vinc­ing other mem­bers of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to make ad­just­ments over the res­o­lu­tions to en­cour­age North Ko­rea to fur­ther push the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and pur­sue eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

The meet­ing be­tween Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at the G20 in Ar­gentina not only fo­cused on the trade is­sue but on the penin­sula is­sue. A state­ment re­leased by the White House said, “Pres­i­dent Trump, to­gether with Pres­i­dent Xi, will strive, along with Chair­man Kim Jong-un, to see a nu­clear-free Korean Penin­sula. Pres­i­dent Trump ex­pressed his friend­ship and re­spect for Chair­man Kim.”

The tem­po­rary dé­tente on trade fric­tions be­tween China and the US will help the two fur­ther co­op­er­ate on the penin­sula is­sue, Wang noted. “China and the US share com­mon in­ter­ests on the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the penin­sula, and even if China-US ties were in­tense a few months ago, co­op­er­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions over the penin­sula is­sue have never stopped.”

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