See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Will Xi’s Pyongyang visit create momentum for stalled nuclear talks?

Experts suggest China could use nuclear issue as leverage to resolve trade war with US.


Written by

Updated: June 19, 2019

With Chinese President Xi Jinping set to visit North Korea this week, all eyes are on whether his visit will create new momentum to move forward stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

State-operated media outlets in China and North Korea announced Monday night that the Chinese president is scheduled to make a state visit to North Korea on Thursday and Friday. According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, the two leaders will discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula and push for progress.

Scheduled just a week before the Group of 20 summit in Japan, speculations are rampant on the intentions of the communist leaders. During the G-20 summit slated for June 28-29, Xi is expected to discuss their ongoing trade war with US President Donald Trump.

The US president is expected to visit Seoul after the Osaka summit to discuss the denuclearization issue.

Timing of Xi’s visit

Xi’s trip to Pyongyang will be the first by a Chinese president in 14 years, since Hu Jintao was hosted by Kim Jong-il, the late former leader and father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in 2005.

While China is the sole and major ally of North Korea, their relationship appears to have soured since Beijing backed a series of UN sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear provocations.

Efforts for improvement were seen last year when Kim made a surprise trip to Beijing in March 2018. Not only was it Kim’s first visit to China, it was also the first known trip out of the North he had taken since assuming office in 2011.

Since then, the North Korean leader has met with Xi in China three more times. As for Xi, he had previously visited Pyongyang in 2005 and 2008, as a government official and vice president, respectively.

CCTV said Xi’s trip this week would mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the countries.

In response to the announcement Monday, the South Korean government said it believes Xi’s meeting with Kim could contribute to efforts toward denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In a written statement Monday, the presidential office said the government had been aware of the visit since last week.

An official from the presidential office elaborated Tuesday that the government has been closely cooperating with the Chinese government, and that Xi’s planned trip may also reflect South Korea’s “intentions.”

“Regarding denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the United States and China share a complete consensus. Xi has also openly spoken about the need for dialogue for peace on the peninsula,” the official said.

South Korea and China have agreed to hold bilateral talks at the G-20 summit next week.

The White House also expressed hopes of making progress in denuclearization after China’s announcement, saying the world is focused on Kim’s commitment.

“Our goal is to achieve a final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK as agreed to by Chairman Kim,” a White House official told Yonhap News Agency, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Present or pressure?

Experts say the meeting of the two communist leaders may create momentum for the resumption of denuclearization talks that reached an impasse after the summit between Trump and Kim ended without an agreement in late February.

“Amid the heightened tensions between the United States and China over trade, fence-mending efforts will be needed on Beijing’s part,” Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, told The Korea Herald.

“I believe Xi would pressure North Korea to be more active in the denuclearization negotiations, and it would be like a present for Trump,”

The timing of the visit appears to reflect more of China’s needs, according to Hong Min, director of the North Korean research division at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

“Xi can show China has the power to bring North Korea back to dialogue (for denuclearization), using it as a leverage to influence the trade negotiations with the US,” Hong said, adding that it will also provide an opportunity for China to reiterate that it is a critical stakeholder in the region.

As for North Korea, Xi’s support would aid in stabilizing internal politics, Hong explained. With China’s support made apparent to the North Korean public, Kim would be able to justify his moves to resume denuclearization talks with Trump.

“If there is no resumption of US-North Korea negotiations, there is always a risk of things sliding backward in a very negative direction,” Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview with Voice of America, hinting that strong reactions involving missiles and nuclear tests may follow.

Skeptics, on the other hand, believe Xi’s visit could reinforce the position of North Korea against the United States, and also provide support behind the scenes.

Shin Beom-chul, a senior researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said Xi’s trip to Pyongyang had largely been expected, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

“Before, it appears to have been a burden for the Chinese leader to go to Pyongyang because the United States will not like it. But the trade conflict, which is at its peak, may have led China to plan the trip,” Shin said.

 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

US-Thai defence treaty looks to cement alliance in 21st century

Thailand is the US’ oldest treaty ally in Southeast Asia. Thailand and the United States have signed a defence treaty to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region “in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”. The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance”, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Bangkok on Sunday. “It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future”, the statement added. Academics said the move reaffirmed US policy o


By The Nation (Thailand)
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy

Coming challenges call for stronger Korea-ASEAN ties

President Moon Jae-in contributed this article to The Korea Herald and Asia News Network member newspapers on the occasion of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.  Next week, November 25-27, the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit will be held in Korea. In particular, since my hometown Busan will play host to the events, I am very much looking forward to them – as if I have invited valued guests to my home. I send early greetings in a warm welcome to the heads of state and government as well as to the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Republic of Korea was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner to establish an ASEAN Culture House. Koreans love ASEAN so much that the National ASEAN Recreation Forest was created complete with cabins modeled after the various traditional housing styles of the 10 ASEAN member states. After I took offic


By Asia News Network
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy

N. Korea says it sent ultimatum to S. Korea over Mount Kumgang project

Mount Kumgang is a joint economic venture. North Korea sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier this week that it will unilaterally remove the South-built facilities from its Mount Kumgang resort unless Seoul tears them down on its own, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported Friday. The North’s tough stance suggests little room for inter-Korean negotiations that South Korea has sought in an effort to keep the long-suspended tour project that was considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap) “We sent an ultimatum on Nov. 11 that i


By The Korea Herald
November 15, 2019

Diplomacy

China, India doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to clean up

Garbage they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles: Donald Trump. US President Donald Trump at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, has said countries like China, India and Russia are doing “absolutely nothing” to clean up their smokestacks and industrial plants and the garbage that they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles. Trump also claimed that he considers himself to be, “in many ways, an environmentalist, believe it or not”. US president said that climate change is a “very complex issue.” “So…I’m very much into climate. But I want the cleanest air on the planet and I want to have – I have to have clean air – water,” Mr Trump said in remarks at the Economic Club of New York. Trump while addressing the audience said that the US withdrew from the “one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ”close your businesses down within three


By The Statesman
November 14, 2019

Diplomacy

Terminating GSOMIA may send ‘wrong’ message to adversaries

Wartime OPCON transfer is contingent upon conditions being met, says top US military official stationed in Korea. By terminating its bilateral intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, South Korea risks sending the wrong message — that the trilateral alliance of South Korea, the US and Japan is weak — Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the US-ROK Combined Forces Command, said Tuesday. Marking his first year in office, Abrams, who also commands United States Forces Korea and the United Nations Command, spoke on a series of current issues, including the ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiations and the alliance, during a joint press interview.


By The Korea Herald
November 14, 2019

Diplomacy

Trump again cites questionable numbers related to Korea trade deal

Trump has used the trade deal to bolster his credentials back home. US President Donald Trump again cited questionable numbers on Tuesday as he touted his administration’s renegotiated free trade agreement with South Korea. Trump told the Economic Club of New York that the revised FTA, which took effect early this year, doubled the number of American cars that can be sold in South Korea under US standards and extended American tariffs on Korean pickup trucks by another 20 years to 2041. He then took a swipe at the previous administration of Barack Obama, which negotiated the original agreement. “The deal from the previous admini


By The Korea Herald
November 13, 2019