Kim Jong-un takes 4-day trip to China to meet Xi

Arturo Kim
January 9, 2019

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA-North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, arrived in China on Monday for a four-day visit at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Chinese and North Korean official media said.

Rumors of another visit came late Monday night as a North Korean train passed into the Chinese city of Dandong under heavy security.

The second day of trade negotiations coincided with an unannounced visit by North Korea's Kim for talks with Xi in Beijing, amid speculation of a second meeting between Kim and Trump.

"His arrival in Beijing, which coincided with Mr. Kim's birthday on Thursday, comes as Pyongyang expresses increasing frustration at the USA approach in stalled denuclearization talks", the Wall Street Journal reports.

Kim's visit to China, confirmed by North Korean and Chinese state media, comes amid plans for a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump aimed at denuclearising the Korean peninsula. Kim is also expected to meet Moon again soon, possibly in Seoul.

Kim's remark suggests bringing Beijing into negotiations to establish a peace process on the Korean Peninsula, now revolving around the United States and the two Koreas.

While China and Russian Federation have said the United Nations should consider relaxing sanctions on North Korea, Trump insisted Sunday that they would remain "in full force and effect" until the U.S. sees "very positive" results in the nuclear issue.

In his annual New Year address last week, Kim Jong Un said that he was "ready to sit with the USA president again at any time in the future and will make efforts by all means that will produce a result that will be welcomed by the global community".

Kim's trip comes as the USA and North Korea look to settle the North's decades-long pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.

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"Forcing the US out of Korea, and out of East Asia, is more important to Beijing than reigning in ... a self-confident or even provocative North Korea", he wrote.

Some observers believe that while it is tempting to interpret this "new way" as being a thinly veiled threat of more nuclear or missile tests, it could instead be an implicit warning that the North could further bolster its already improving ties with China if the USA fails to ante up.

Kim's statement about how he might have to choose a "new way" to guarantee the North's sovereignty and secure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula caught the eye of many foreign analysts. Kim met twice with Xi previous year beforemeeting with Donald Trump in Singaporein a historic summit that ended up achieving very little.

But Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the timing of the North Korean leader's arrival could be coincidental.

Washington is demanding Pyongyang give up its nuclear arsenal before any relief from economic sanctions is granted, while the North is insisting on immediate concessions from the US. -China trade talks in Beijing that seek to end the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies ahead of a March deadline.

"China has always supported both sides to continue to hold talks and to reach a positive outcome", Lu said.

"As to whether this is used as a bargaining chip by China in trade talks, I believe more Americans would think so than Chinese do", the tweet went on to say.

But relations went through a rough patch in recent years as China backed United Nations sanctions over the North's nuclear tests. "Kim will coordinate his USA policy with Xi before talking to Trump, like he did before the June 2018 summit".

As talks with the United States stall over ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program, a question hangs: Will he and Trump meet again? Armed with that information, Kim might know how much he can push back against the Trump administration if it refuses to compromise on sanctions, Kazianis said. "China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability".

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