North Korea has serious economic problems. More than half of the nation’s people are at or near starvation. China, who is Pyongyang’s primary source of financial aid, has been communicating is displeasure with the nation’s young leader. China’s rebuke of Kim Jung Un has led to a lessening of aggressive talk and actions, and possibly a willingness to cease its nuclear weapons program.
Kim’s personal envoy, Choe Ryong-hae, delivered a note to China’s president, President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday. The note was reported to have been handwritten, and relayed a message softening North Korea’s previously defensive attitude. The report also said that Choe wore a “Mao” style suit, instead of his customary military uniform.
Mr. Xi said the Chinese government and Communist Party wanted to “push forward the development of healthy and stable relations” with North Korea, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Mr. Xi also reiterated China’s longstanding position of seeking denuclearization of the Korean peninsula through the stalled “six-party talks” process, the report said.
Analysts for the United States and China agreed that the visit by Choe was prompted by the possibility of China seeking closer relationships with both the U.S. and South Korea.
President Obama and Mr. Xi are scheduled to meet in June. It is expected that one of their most important discussions will be North Korea’s attempts at nuclear proliferation.
Park Geun-hye, the new South Korean leader, will later visit Beijing.
Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University, believes that the three day visit by vice-Marshall Choe did little to repair a rift in the country’s relations with China. Other than aid in the form of food for North Korea’s starving people, China appears reluctant to return to its previous relationship with the country. However, he may have been able to establish arrangement for Kim and Mr. Xi in the future.
“Obviously without denuclearization on the agenda, Beijing will not welcome Kim Jong-un’s visit,” Mr. Zhu said.
If Kim were to agree to the six party talks, which include China, the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia, they may never happen. The United States and South Korea have reiterated that they will not join in discussions with North Korea until it agrees to renounce its nuclear weapons program.
When Park Geun-hye visits Beijing, she is expected to receive a welcome filled with “pomp and circumstance”, which would not be the case for Kim.
“Kim Jong Un isn’t about to receive treatment that is even remotely equivalent,” to Ms. Park’s, said Jonathan D. Pollack, a Korea expert at the Brookings Institution. “But does that mean that Pyongyang is about to make any meaningful concessions that reduce the growing pressures directed against them? I detect no signs of this at all.”
The Guardian Express