- The Lobby
- Extra Times
Vice president Li Yuanchao to visit N Korea
China’s vice president will visit North Korea this week for Korean War commemorations following a period of strained relations between the communist neighbors.
Vice President Li Yuanchao will be the highest ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since Kim Jong Un took over as leader of the impoverished hard-line communist state upon his father’s death in December 2011.
The trip beginning today through Sunday affirms a warming trend in relations between a deeply isolated Pyongyang and Beijing, its only real ally and key source of economic assistance.
The statement posted yesterday on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website said Li will visit for 60th anniversary commemorations of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, in which China fought on the North’s side against U.N. forces led by the United States.
That shared history, in which troops sent by Mao Zedong likely saved the North Korean regime from annihilation, has been the default fallback for the sides through periods of ambivalence bordering on animosity.
Most recently, Beijing was deeply offended by Pyongyang’s actions following Kim’s ascension, including conducting rocket launches, a nuclear test and other saber-rattling that spiked tensions with South Korea and the U.S.
Beijing considered the moves an affront to its interests in regional stability and showed its displeasure by joining with the U.S. to back U.N. sanctions and cut off dealings with North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank.
North Korea also frustrated Beijing by refusing to agree to high-level meetings and incensed the Chinese public after a Chinese fishing crew was detained.
The bad blood led to an unusual half-year gap in high-level contacts that ended in May when Pyongyang dispatched one of Kim’s close allies to Beijing to reaffirm to close traditional ties and commit North Korea to eventually rejoining six-nation nuclear disarmament talks hosted by Beijing.
Despite the improvement in ties, policy toward the North remains one of the most debated issues among the Chinese foreign relations establishment, with some scholars going so far as calling for Beijing to end its economic and diplomatic support for Pyongyang.
Yet North Korea remains a crucial buffer between China and the 28,000 U.S. troops based in South Korea, and Beijing wins credit internationally by exercising what influence it has over the regime to moderate its behavior.
That means China will retain its support for Pyongyang, even while becoming more critical of some of its actions, wrote Ren Xiao, director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Foreign Policy at Fudan University in Shanghai.
“China is bound to adjust its North Korean policies, but it doesn’t mean Beijing will side with the U.S., Japan, and South Korea. Rather, it will respond to the North’s extreme moves that offend China’s interests and will make the North correct those moves,” Ren wrote in a recent essay for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Although the Foreign Ministry gave no details, Li is almost certain to meet with Kim and other top North Korean readers, since to not do so would almost certainly be taken as a snub.
Those discussions are likely to focus on Beijing’s much cherished goal of coaxing Pyongyang back to the nuclear talks that also involve the United States, South Korea, Russia and Japan. AP
Responsible Right of Expression — In the interest of freedom of expression, coupled with a true sense of responsibility to encourage community dialogue, the Macau Daily Times offers its readers the opportunity to express their opinions on new-related matters through this website. All opinions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to remove comments that are deemed to be obscene, or are merely insults written under the cloak of anonymity. MDT
- HUMAN RESOURCES | The business battleground: “Companies have to make the career path clearer”
- Medical sector faces difficulties in attracting overseas experts
- Easter celebrations at the Cathedral in three languages
- EDUCATION: Former Harvard scholar shares learning experience with students
- Macau International Jazz Festival kicks off today
- Raising a child at sea “is as healthy as in any other place”
- BRIEFS: GCS releases press law consultation report
- Father of comatose girl collects residents’ signatures
- Residential mortgage loans drop by 41.7pct
- Spring book fair kicks off
- Catholic weekly with Filipino editor and English supplement
- Doctors to apply for license after one-year internship
- Measures announced to control pollution in Ka Ho
- DSRT reaffirms liberalization of TV services but provides no timeframe
- Wynn declines as analyst cites risk of drop in VIP bets