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During His Four-Day Official Visit to China: N. Korean Leader Kim Reaffirmed His Determination to Denuclearize The Korean Peninsula
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Beijing on Jan. 8, 2019. The four-day trip, which is Kim's fourth official visit to China since the first visit in March 2018, came at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the latest visit, Kim also visited an industrial zone in China. Kim expressed his desire to pursue denuclearization and to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultations, during the summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi praised the efforts of Pyongyang while underlining Beijing's role in creating peaceful dialogue on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his determination to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and vowed to make efforts to yield positive results in the second summit with the United States. According to the Xinhua News Agency, Kim expressed his desire to pursue denuclearization and to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultations, during the summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The four-day trip, which is Kim's fourth official visit to China since the first visit in March 2018, came at the invitation of Xi. During the latest visit, Kim also visited an industrial zone in China. According to the report, the two leaders displayed a determination to make joint efforts to "advance the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue."
Kim also said North Korea would make efforts for a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community, Xinhua said. Kim also expressed hope for relevant parties to jointly push for a resolution on the ongoing denuclearization issue on the Korean Peninsula.
Xi praised the efforts of Pyongyang while underlining Beijing's role in creating peaceful dialogue on the Korean Peninsula. "It has become the interna-tional community's common expectation and consensus for the dialogue to continue and yield results. The political settlement of the Peninsula issue faces a rare historic opportunity," Xi was quoted as saying in the media report.
Xi expressed support for North Korea and the U.S. holding summits and to bring out results to resolve concerns, through dialogue. "China hopes that the DPRK and the United States will meet each other halfway. China stands ready to work with the DPRK and relevant parties to play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realizing denuclearization on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region." Xi added.
During the meeting, Kim also invited Xi to visit Pyongyang, the North Korea's Korean Central News Agency reported. Xi readily accepted the offer and notified the North of his schedule, it added without elaborating.
He was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol-ju, and high-ranking officials, including Kim Yong-chol, North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator with the United States; Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho; Defense Minister No Kwang-chol; Workers' Party of Korea Vice Chairman for Science and Education Pak Thae-song; Workers' Party of Korea First Vice Director and Kim's younger sister Kim Yo-jong; and senior diplomat Ri Su-yong.
The South Korean government said it welcomed Kim's trip and expressed hopes that his talks with the Chinese leader would help bring about denuclearization and advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. "The government expects high-level exchanges between the North and China, including a meeting between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Xi Jinping, to contribute to the complete denuclearization and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula," said a Foreign Ministry official.
Wrapping up his four-day trip on January 9, Kim met Xi again in the morning and visited an industrial site in Beijing. At the Beijing Hotel, the two leaders met and reaffirmed their close relationship and vowed to "jointly make new contributions to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity," according to Xinhua.
Kim is spending more time in the neighboring country than his two previous trips in May and June 2018, which lasted for two days each. His first visit was a four-day affair. The latest trip also coincided with Kim's birthday that fell on January 8.
"We hope the exchange between China and North Korea will contribute to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of lasting peace," Cheong Wa Dae spokes-man Kim Eui-kyeom said in a press briefing. The spokesman also confirmed that the presidential office had been informed in advance of the meeting.
Kim's first overseas trip since he came to power in 2011 was seen as Pyongyang's attempt to demonstrate its close ties with China and ease possible concerns that its ally might be sidelined in discussions that would soon start among the United States and the two Koreas.
North Korean leader Kim said in his New Year's speech that the communist country will actively promote "multi-party negotiations" to replace the current cease-fire on the Korean Peninsula and that it will find a "new way" to defend its interests. These remarks have been fueling speculation that China will step up its presence in its ally's diplomatic relations with other countries.
Kim's train departed from a train station in Beijing at around 2 p.m. after Kim and Xi had lunch together, according to Yonhap News Agency. Given that it takes more than 14 hours from Beijing to the border city of Dandong by train, Kim stayed less than two days in the capital city. In the morning, Kim visited Tong Ren Tang, located in an economic-technological development zone in Beijing, which is the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine.
The North Korea leader, who stressed that attaining economic self-sufficiency and prosperity is the country's core drive in his New Year's address, spent some 30 minutes there inspecting production sites, which could be a model for North Korea in modernizing its herbal medicine industry.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to China heralds brisk diplomatic maneuvers ahead over how to end the country's nuclear threat. Most of all, the visit, set to end on January 10, further heightened prospects for a second meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump that is expected to set the course of their stalled denuclearization talks.
Kim's visit to China and meetings with President Xi Jinping came after Trump said that he was looking forward to meeting Kim again to discuss the denuclearization process that has been deadlocked since their first meeting in June. He also said the United States and the North were negotiating the venue for their summit and that it would be decided "in the not too distant future."
Trump expressed the hope in response to Kim's New Year's address, in which the North Korean leader said he was willing to meet the U.S. leader at any time. The fact that Kim visited China before and after crucial diplomatic events - last year's summit talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump - strengthens speculation that a second Trump-Kim meeting is imminent.
Kim, who took power in late 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, made his first visit to Beijing in March last year, about one month ahead of his first meeting with Moon at the truce village of Panmunjeom. He made his second trip to China in May, which focused on discussions with Xi about the then upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit in Singapore. Kim then went to Beijing again only one week after he met Trump.
In his New Year's address, Kim made it clear that the denuclearization talks with the United States will be one of his major tasks in the coming year. Overall, his message left open the door for talks to resume the stalled denuclearization talks with the United States, although he did not forget to warn the United States that the North could "seek a new path" if Washington holds on to sanctions. He definitely needs China's backing if the denuclearization talks with the United States are derailed.
One more reason Kim's visit to China at the start of the year should be noticed is that in his New Year's speech, the North Korean leader called for a multilateral peace scheme on the Korean Peninsula.
He said that the "signatories" of the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War only with a cease-fire should hold a multilateral negotiation to replace it with a peace treaty to guarantee permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. China, which sent its army to the aid of the North during the war, is one of the signatories of the armistice accord.
In part, establishing a peace regime involving the two Koreas, the United States and China makes sense. But what's certain is that the promotion of any such scheme should be preceded by a full, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities.
As Kim opened 2019 with a high-profile visit to China, the pace of diplo-matic engagements is likely to quicken and make the coming year a busy one. But it may take a little time before one can know whether what Kim and Xi discussed and agreed to will accelerate or decelerate the denuclearization process.★