- North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, in a suprise visit that again came unannounced.
- Chinese media confirmed that Kim had visited and met with Xi, according to Reuters’ Josh Smith.
- China is likely trying to insert its interests into ongoing inter-Korean talks and shape Kim’s message to President Donald Trump when the two meet.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, in a surprise visit that again came unannounced.
Chinese media confirmed that Kim had visited and met with Xi,according to Reuters’ Josh Smith. Niether country commented on the trip before it took place.
But that was also the case when Kim left North Korea for Beijing in an armoured train to make his first foreign visit since taking power in 2011. Also like last time, social media was abuzz with rumours of Kim’s visit before any official confirmation.
Chinese media quoted Kim as saying he “hopes relevant parties can adopt step-by-step and synchronised measures to advance the process of political settlement and eventually achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Reaffirming Kim’s desire for denuclearization has become a hallmark of his diplomatic outtings.
Past trips by past North Korean leaders have also followed the pattern of being carried out quietly and only discussed after they are over.
President Donald Trump then tweeted, without reference to Kim, that he would call Xi and speak about North Korea, as well as trade.
The pair reportedly met in Dalian, where Xi will attend a ceremony launching the country’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier.
China may be trying to cosy up to Kim
As inter-Korean talks continue and a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump looms, Xi may be looking to insert China into the dialogue which has appeared to put US interests first.
By not asking the US to reduce or remove its military presence in South Korea during negotiations, North Korea has failed to advance Chinese interests in the talks.
China sees the US’s missile defences and forces in South Korea as a serious threat and a mechanism to contain Beijing.
After Trump accepted Kim’s offer to meet, Beijing quickly followed up by having Kim visit Xi.
Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia studies at the Council of Foreign Relations previously told Business Insider’s Alexandra Ma: “China is desperate to remain relevant in this process of potential denuclearization and reunification. It was taken aback by the decision of Kim and Trump to meet and unhappy about the lack of preconditions on the North Korean side,”
By having Kim, or a high-level official, visit for the carrier launch, China may be trying to re-assert themselves in the North Korea conversation.
Kim and Trump will reportedly occur in late May or early June, and make history as the first time a sitting US president has met a sitting North Korean leader.
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