Xi Jinping to be first Chinese leader to visit North Korea in 14 years
The last time it happened was when Hu Jintao visited Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, in 2005.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will be making his way down south to North Korea on Thursday, June 20, state media CCTV reported on Monday, June 17.
Xi went to North Korea before
The trip, on the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, ends on Friday, June 21.
This will be the first trip to the isolated country in 14 years made by a Chinese leader — the last time it happened was when Hu Jintao went in 2005 and met with Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il.
However, this is not Xi’s first visit to North Korea — he previously made a trip as vice president in 2008, and met Kim Jong Il.
Xi meeting Kim before meeting Trump
Xi’s visit comes a week before the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, where U.S. President Donald Trump expects to meet with him to discuss their trade dispute.
Signalling that China is still a vital stakeholder
Yuan Jingdong of the University of Sydney, told AFP that Xi’s visit is to signal that China remains a “critical stakeholder”.
China is North Korea’s largest trade partner, and is also an important source of aid.
The trip, made at a time when Beijing and Washington are not exactly seeing eye to eye on trade and technology issues, serves to remind Trump of the influence Beijing still holds in Pyongyang.
Yuan added that Xi could use the trip as possible leverage against the U.S. in the trade dispute.
Talks on denuclearisation between North Korea and the U.S. have broken down since the collapse of the Hanoi Summit in February this year.
The meeting had ended prematurely without any deal agreed upon by both sides.
And Kim failed to get what he wanted, which is relief from crushing sanctions imposed due to his country’s nuclear ambitions — something he is unlikely to give up on.
Time for China to reciprocate
China’s relations with North Korea took a dip after the former supported a series of U.S.-led international sanctions against the latter over its nuclear tests.
But both countries have worked to improve ties since then.
In the past year, Kim has visited China no fewer than four times, therefore making Xi’s visit a timely act of reciprocity.
Top image via Xinhua