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How Relations are Unfolding between China and North Korea in Early 2019

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In another article, details were given of the North Korean leader’s visit to Vietnam, which mentioned that Kim Jong-un’s special train passed through Chinese territory without making any long stops on the way back to North Korea. Despite earlier predictions, there was no meeting held between the leaders of North Korea and China.

However, we will examine what skipping this meeting could mean within the overall context of relations between the two countries in early 2019.

In Washington on 23 January 2019, the United States Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun met with Chinese counterpart Kong Xuanyou. The diplomats discussed the issues involved in achieving complete denuclearization in North Korea, shared the information they have based on the results of recent negotiations which are still in progress, and stressed the importance of implementing UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea.

On 26 January, the Workers’ Newspaper Rodong Sinmun wrote that South Korea and the North should not listen to opinions from third-party states about their joint projects. Inter-Korean projects should be carried out on a bilateral basis in Korean people’s interests and not for foreign countries. So-called North Korean policy coordination which other countries are advocating aims to prevent Seoul from improving inter-Korean relations. Consulting with third-party states would also create an obstacle which would present Koreans from finding a peaceful resolution to their issues, thwarting hopes of prosperity and unification. These third-party states are not named, but judging by what has been written, this may not only be hinting at the US, but also China.

From 24 to 31 January 2019 the North Korean art troupe led by Ri Su-yong toured Beijing, which made an important ceremonial event. China’s Central Television reported that the performance given by artists from North Korea is not only important as a form of cultural exchange, but also marks the 70th anniversary since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established. The South Korean media highlighted the fact that the performances were held against the backdrop of Pyongyang landscapes, while three years ago at a similar concert, the background had been one of nuclear weapons and missiles.

The Korean Central News Agency noted that the concerts were a success, “thanks to the care taken by the Supreme leaders of both countries—North Korea and China.” The Agency quotes Xi Jinping, who said that the tour had contributed to strengthening mutual understanding between the two countries as they approached the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The newspaper Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official print media, published a detailed report on the tour and a photo report.

The performers were accompanied by WPK Vice Chairman for International Relations Ri Su-yong, and........

© New Eastern Outlook