anners with slogans saying “North Korea-China Friendship” and “Unbreakable Friendship” were hanging over the streets of Pyongyang to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping who was visiting the North Korean capital from June 20 to 21. As this year marks the 70th anniversary of China and North Korea establishing diplomatic ties, Xi’s visit is of special significance.
A day ahead of the trip, the North Korean Rodong Sinmun newspaper published an article by Xi, in which he affirmed that the Sino-North Korean relationship has come to a new historical level and that China is confident in continuing the new chapter of the bilateral relationship.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un greeted Xi at a grand welcome ceremony, at which the friendship between the two sides was frequently mentioned. During his meeting with Kim, Xi once again emphasized that the Sino-North Korean friendship conforms to the fundamental interests of both countries and the international tendency, and that the friendship will not be shaken by changing international situations.
Xi told Kim that it is the Chinese government’s and the Communist Party of China’s steadfast principle to keep a good relationship with North Korea, and he suggested that the two countries enhance the relationship and consolidate mutual political trust by exchanging ideas on major issues and strengthening strategic cooperation.
Xi spoke highly of North Korea’s efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and promote denuclearization. He emphasized that China is willing to offer help with North Korea’s safety and development concerns and would cooperate with North Korea to further promote denuclearization.
Kim replied that his country is on a new strategic route and hopes to learn more from China’s experiences in economic development and livelihood improvement. He praised China’s efforts on the denuclearization issue, adding that North Korea has made a lot of efforts over the past year to prevent the situation from worsening, but he did not receive active replies from relevant parties. Kim said that Pyongyang will continue its patient approach to the denuclearization issue, and added he hopes that relevant parties will cooperate more with North Korea to explore a solution to the issue.
This was Xi’s first visit to North Korea as Chinese President, but the two leaders have met four times over past year when Kim Jong-un was working to promote denuclearization by meeting with the presidents of South Korea and the US.
Although Kim’s second meeting with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi this February was fruitless, he recently sent a letter to Trump, which, according to the latter, was warm and friendly. Given that China has always advocated dialogue as the way forward in the denuclearization issue, analysts believe that Xi’s latest visit may provide new momentum in the stalled process.