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Will President Xi Jinping Visit Pyongyang?

April 24, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For six years, the People’s Republic of China placed North
Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in diplomatic deep freeze.
Despite Kim’s evident desire for an invitation to visit the
PRC, none came.

Although Beijing spoke of the bilateral relationship with
restraint, the Chinese public exercised none, criticizing
“Fatty Kim” and suggesting that the North should be
left to its fate. In turn, North Korean officials did not hide
their displeasure with their supposed ally, which joined America in
steadily tightening sanctions in response to the North’s
missile and nuclear tests.

But everything changed last year with rapprochement between the
U.S. and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. President
Xi Jinping took a sudden, unexpected interest in the DPRK, rushing
to meet Kim twice before the latter’s first summit with
President Donald Trump. In March 2018 Kim traveled to Beijing; two
months later the Kim and Xi met in Dalian, a Chinese city closer to
North Korea.

A visit to Pyongyang from
Xi would be decisive confirmation that the two nations had
normalized their relationship.

A week after Kim’s June summit with Trump, China’s
and the North’s leaders met again, in Beijing. This January,
Kim again went to China’s capital to talk with Xi. At that
point Xi was

one visit ahead of President Moon Jae-in, who had met three ties
with Kim. Perhaps the most notable public aspect of the trip was
Xi’s reported acceptance of Kim’s invitation to visit
Pyongyang, rumored likely to happen this month.

The numerous meetings demonstrate both an improved relationship
and a notable gain in leverage by the DPRK. The two nations, both
sides oft have said, are as close as lips and teeth. But that
reflects geography more than interest or temperament. Beijing
desired a pliable buffer. In 1950 China’s new communist
government demonstrated that it was willing to fight a new war, a
year after the PRC’s final victory over the Nationalist
forces, to keep U.S. forces away from its border.

However, Pyongyang resolutely guarded its independence against
Beijing as well as other nations. Indeed, contrary to claims of
some Washington policymakers that China manipulated its small
neighbor against America, Pyongyang often ostentatiously flouted
the PRC’s wishes. Beijing criticized North Korea’s
system of monarchical communism as well as development of nuclear
weapons. Although China often moderated new U.S. sanction
proposals—fearing an implosion on its border—it refused
to protect the North from increased economic pressure.

Xi and his predecessors encouraged Kim’s father to follow
the Chinese model of economic reform, without effect. After taking
over Kim Jong Un accelerated both missile and nuclear development;
two years after taking power he executed his uncle, the
DPRK’s chief interlocutor with …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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