North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has arrived in China to begin a two-day visit, his third such trip since March. This trip comes one week after his landmark summit meeting in Singapore with President Trump.
China is considered the most powerful ally for North Korea, and is North Korea’s largest trade partner. Trade with China represents 57% of North Korea’s imports and 42% of its exports. China has tried to maintain a diplomatic stance between the US and North Korea. It has urged the US not to conduct military exercises with South Korea and has implored North Korea to stop testing missiles. It has also approved of the UN sanctions against North Korea that have been repeatedly imposed this year. In February 2017, China announced that it will be suspending all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of 2017. Coal is North Korea’s most vital export commodity.
The North Korean nuclear program has been a source of concern for the US and the international community for decades. North Korea has remained an isolated nation for decades. Its nuclear program has especially been a concern for the international community. In 2017, North Korea launched 23 missiles in the span of 16 tests.
In March 2018, a South Korean delegation headed to North Korea to partake in historic talks to ease the tensions that have built up in the Korean peninsula. These talks eventually resulted in US President Donald Trump agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un. Ties between North Korea and South Korea have improved exponentially in recent months.
On June 12th, US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un met in what was the first-ever US-North Korea summit on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. The core of the summit agreement was an exchange of US security guarantees in exchange for a North Korean commitment to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China on June 19, 2018 to brief President Xi Jinping on his Singapore summit with US President Donald Trump and discuss a future negotiating strategy, according to Japanese publication Nikkei Asian Review.
Xinhua, China’s official news agency, announced the visit amid reports that a special flight of Air Koryo, the North Korean state-run airline, was expected to land in Beijing. Mr. Kim’s previous trips to China were not announced until after they were over.
On his first visit to China, in March, Mr. Kim spent two days in the capital for talks with President Xi Jinping. In May, Mr. Kim visited the port city of Dalian, also spending time with Mr. Xi.
In recent weeks, Mr. Kim has reversed years of North Korean foreign policy. Last week, he met with President Trump in Singapore, the first time a leader of North Korea and a sitting American president have held talks. Analysts believe that Mr. Kim is now seen as an enviable position, with leverage over the region’s two great rivals.
In their joint declaration after meeting in Singapore, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim pledged to move ahead with the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, details of the agreement nor timelines have not yet been released.
The Americans insist that sanctions will remain in place until the North completely disassembles its weapons program. China has suggested that the Singapore meeting was a good-will measure and should not prompt the easing of sanctions.
Our assessment is that Kim’s visit to China is taking place against the backdrop of the upcoming trade war between China and the US. We believe that the frequent visits by DPRK leader Kim shows that China is moving towards a healthier and more normal relation with North Korea.
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