Beijing is Pyongyang's sole major ally and key provider of trade and aid, their ties forged in the blood of the Korean War Photo: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

Xi makes his day: Kim boosted by China talks, say analysts

By Kang Jin-kyu

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un came away from his fourth meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping with his hand strengthened in nuclear talks with the U.S., analysts say, even as Seoul urged him to do more.

Beijing is Pyongyang's sole major ally and key provider of trade and aid, their ties forged in the blood of the Korean War.

The relationship had soured in recent years as China became frustrated with its neighbour's nuclear antics but warmed dramatically in 2018 as Kim and Xi met three times, each occasion coming shortly before Kim's summits with U.S. President Donald Trump and the South's Moon Jae-in.

A second Kim-Trump meeting is expected soon, and the North Korean and Chinese leaders had far deeper security discussions this time in Beijing than in any of their talks last year, pointed out Lim Eul-chul, professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University.

Kim and Xi agreed to jointly study and co-ordinate "the management of the situation of the Korean peninsula and the denuclearization negotiations in particular", the North's official KCNA news agency reported.

That will give China a central role in future U.S.-North Korean discussions, Lim told AFP, even if it is not in the room at the time.

"Closer ties between China and North Korea in pursuit of a security alliance will not be welcomed by the U.S.," Lim told AFP. "It could be a challenge to Washington to face Pyongyang officials with firm backing from their neighbor."

The negotiation process has stalled since Kim and Trump's first high-profile encounter in Singapore, where they signed a vaguely-worded statement on denuclearisation and have since disagreed on what it means.

Pyongyang is demanding the easing of sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, while Washington insists they must remain in place until it gives up its atomic arms -- something it has made no public promise to do.

China -- which regards northeast Asia as its back yard and is engaged in a range of disputes of its own with the U.S., including a trade spat that threatens to upset the global economy -- also wants the sanctions relaxed.

Xi agreed with the "principled issues" raised by North Korea in talks with the U.S. and that its "reasonable points of concern should be resolved properly", according to Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency.

Pyongyang has a long history of playing major powers off against each other, with Kim's predecessor and grandfather Kim Il Sung adept at winning backing from the then Communist rivals Beijing and Moscow in turn.

"North Korea uses engagement with China to reinforce its leverage with the United States, and vice versa," said former U.S. diplomat and Korea specialist Mintaro Oba.

It could be "annoying" for Pyongyang to have to face Beijing emphasising its "superiority" in their relationship, he tweeted, but that was "a small price to pay for a strengthened position" in talks with Trump.

Expectations of a second Trump-Kim summit have mounted in recent days, with the US leader saying the two were negotiating over its location and Seoul's President Moon Jae-in saying Kim's Beijing trip was a sign it was "imminent".

Speculation over possible locations has swirled among Korea-watchers, with the candidates including Hanoi in Communist-ruled Vietnam, Ulan Bator in Mongolia -- which Kim can reach by train -- Sweden, which has a long history of mediating between Pyongyang and Washington, and even the US state of Hawaii.

But whether a meeting will take place still depends on what Pyongyang brings to the table in preliminary talks between the two, said Kim Han-kwon, analyst at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

The North needs to take "more bold, practical measures for denuclearisation" Moon said - a departure for the South Korean leader, who has stressed engagement with Pyongyang to bring it to the negotiating table.

That has prompted criticism from conservatives that Moon was conceding too much while gaining little in return.

Moon also urged Washington to take "corresponding measures", but acknowledged that the Singapore summit agreement was "somewhat vague" and that there was international skepticism over Kim's sincerity.

Moon's call was driven by a belief that denuclearisation talks needed to produce "tangible achievements" this year, said Cho Seong-ryoul, a former senior researcher at Seoul's Institute for National Security Strategy.

"There is a gap between Pyongyang and Washington over what it means to denuclearise," he said. "Moon is trying to narrow that gap now."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Trump's getting played like the fool he is.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It'd be tough to find two more despicable individuals in a photo together.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The word "conspiracy" seem to be coming into play and now starting to shed light to N & S Korea and China's "intentions" regarding the West, and not just the USA. From all indications, All other nations in Asia other than Russia and the Muslim countries, are but "pawns" to be used for their ends. It becomes obvious when S Korea and China both play the "race", "religion" and "economic" card along with "righteous" "legitimacy based upon their set of values and "self-righteousness".

Now one must view all Asian countries now inhabited and occupied by migrants and businesses from the 3 countries with a "different" perspective. The "ultimatum" has been sent o Taiwan and now Japan and the USA both directly and indirectly. If N & S Korea can "provide" "ocean access" to China, their military and merchant marine as well as fishing capabilities will explode in growth.

A familiar scene is taking place all over the world. While economic concerns is still the primary issue, the "race" and "religious" card are the basis of almost all conflicts. It is so also in the US. Japan has yet to see such "race" and "religious" confrontation, but there is a direct threat to the type of governing system "parliamentary democracy" and economic strength of the people and corporations.

This meeting between Kim and Xi "signals" a major "change" for the region.

It appears China stayed in the sidelines and wanted the US to subsidize N & S Korea's economic recovery before moving to military options.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Birds of a feather...

Well, I find solace in the fact that all it would take to purge the CCP from power over China without issue would be 1.4 billion Chinese sick and tired of letting a few thousand individuals control their lives. The PLA would have to realise that it is their job to protect the PEOPLE of China and not the government goons that would "command" China's military to harm it's own people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

While Kim and Xi mend geopolitical "fences", bone spurs, in his typical pugilistic way, kicks our neighbors and allies and is fixated, absolutely fixated on a stupid wall.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Expectations of a second Trump-Kim summit have mounted in recent days, with the US leader saying the two were negotiating over its location and Seoul's President Moon Jae-in saying Kim's Beijing trip was a sign it was "imminent".

Ach, after all the hype of the first one I reckons this will be a snorefest of self-congratulatory rhetoric from the mango madman.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Beijing is Pyongyang's sole major ally and key provider of trade and aid, their ties forged in the blood of the Korean War.

Yep, if it weren't for good old China, there wouldn't be any North Korea today, it would just be a South Korea-style Korea. Thanks, China! I mean what would we ever do without Kim Jong Un?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You've been a good little boy so now now you can go out and play - with your missiles.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Kim Jong-un will not go one step further without Chinese leader approval because he will be on his own if he didn't consult with Chinese leaders before meeting with the President Trump.

I believe China will prefer two Korea states rather than one Korea because China doesn't want a pro western country in its backyard. Kim Jong-un needs Chinese Government support for his country and his own survival.

N. Korean's denuclearization was a long way to go because hardliner N. Korean Military Generals won't be given up easily. If Kim Jong-un goes alone against his military Generals and then he has to worry about his head too.

A consulting with China is the best option for young N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un and also it shows as his respect to the elder Chinese leader and appreciation of the Chines leader advice. It's very important in Eastern Asia culture, regardless of your capitalist or communist. The President Xi will be very pleased and Kim Jong-un will get his support and get some advice from the President Xi for forthcoming negotiation meeting with the President Trump.

The President Trump will not be tolerated this time if he comes without a time frame for denuclearize N. Korea and asking for to lift sanction on his country without doing nothing for the disarmament of Nuclear weapons. The President Trump hates wasting time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kim Jong-un will not go one step further without Chinese leader approval 

The only steps Kim can take are refining his nuclear devices and ballistic missiles.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

North Korea is just the window dressing of China imho, translation - little kim went to meet his boss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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