North Korean leader Kim Jong-un started a 4-day visit to China on Monday. This is his fourth China visit since March 2018. Monday is also Kim’s birthday. The detail shows the current closeness in the relationship between the two countries and their top leaders.
An important background for Kim’s visit is the upcoming second summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
Both Pyongyang and Washington are busy making plans and the US said the two sides are picking a place for the meeting.
After the first Kim-Trump summit last year, the implementation of agreements they reached encountered obstacles but the two countries restored high-level communication soon afterward: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang again in October 2018.
It is noted that Kim’s fourth visit occurs as China is negotiating trade with the US in Beijing. Is China taking advantage of Kim to influence the negotiations? It can be said for sure that there are more Americans than Chinese thinking this way. Few serious strategic scholars in China would deem this likely.
More Chinese care about Kim’s New Year speech in which he reiterated North Korea’s desire to develop its economy and improve its people’s livelihood. It is believed that Pyongyang’s plan will affect the country’s attitude toward the rest of the world.
It is hoped that the US and South Korea can accurately understand the constructive significance of amicable China-North Korea ties to push ahead with denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. What Pyongyang lacks most is confidence in its national security. A close China-North Korea relationship is its largest source of a sense of security from the international community. It is almost impossible to promote denuclearization peacefully without China’s support and encouragement.
Backing up denuclearization is China’s long-standing and firm stance, which touches upon China’s core interests. Beijing will never sacrifice its national interests for short-term geopolitical needs.
China hopes to see progress in direct US-North Korea negotiations. The Korean Peninsula crisis ultimately resulted from long-term, Cold War-related hostilities between the US and North Korea. China would like to witness warming ties between Washington and Pyongyang with an agreement on a road map for denuclearization. Washington should rid itself of the notion that China would play tricks for influence.
Washington should shoulder its own responsibility for denuclearization. It is Washington’s duty, not Beijing’s. Pyongyang harbors doubts over whether Washington is trustworthy, and the Trump administration needs action rather than words to eliminate those doubts.
On the Korean Peninsula there are currently no more nuclear tests, missile tests or extreme threats between Washington and Pyongyang. That was unimaginable when Trump assumed office in 2017. Washington should cherish this hard-won achievement, follow it up, be determined to prevent retrogression and promote better results.