North Korea’s FM begins China visit
Ri to seek Beijing’s advice on resolving nuclear issue: expert
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 Sci- ences’ 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 Chi- na 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.”