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Xu Fangqing: China’s crucial involvement in DPRK-U.S. relations

Friday,May 11, 2018

At the invitation of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), paid an unofficial visit to China from March 25 to 28. During the visit, Xi held talks with Kim at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed his counterpart Kim Jong Un from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) again in Dalian City, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, where the two countries share borders, following their last face-to-face exchange in Beijing over one month ago.

Without the appearance of the first ladies, this talk demonstrates a down-to-business stance rather than the ceremonial warming-up in the first round meeting. The official news released on Tuesday evening, just after the meeting ended, also showed a different kind of efficiency from last time.

Undoubtedly, this visiting also stirs up ripples outside, just like Kim’s last surprise Beijing trip. For some observers, it’s rare and unusual in history a leader from the DPRK to make this kind of one-way-street visits to China twice within such short period of time.

On one hand, the frequent meetings show the openness and flexibility of the two leaders, especially for the emerging Korean leader. Kim Jong Un illustrated his open and dynamic image to the world when he met his counterpart Moon Jae-in from the Republic of Korea (ROK) just a dozen days ago. The historic summit was broadcast online for the first time under the permission from Pyongyang. On the other hand, the current situation on the Korean Peninsula won’t leave room for the diplomatic stereotype.

US President Donald Trump tweeted just after the release of the Xi-Kim meeting that he would call his "friend" President Xi on the trade and that, on the Korean Peninsula issues, "relationships and trust are building."

Obviously it’s hard without China’s warranty for the United States and the DPRK to build up trust given the vast differences of political systems and comprehensive strength. That’s also why the unusual visits took place between China and the DPRK and frequent exchanges between President Xi and President Trump via phone. The direct-related two sides now depend more on China to provide insurance for the landmark summit and the following implementation.

An important and fair statement from Antonio Guterres, General-Secretary of the United Nations (UN), when he accepted an interview from People’s Daily one month ago, tends to be neglected. According to the leader of the UN, it’s China that plays a vital role in making the peace progress of the Korean Peninsula possible and it’s also the same country that has done so much work to create full-fledged environment for both the U.S. and the DPRK to sit down and have the direct upcoming dialogue soon.

For the U.S., China would provide practical conditions for the direct talk and while the DPRK gets the security endorsement from China. It’s non-negotiable for Kim Jong Un to talk about denuclearization in the region without the type of security guarantee which only China could provide right now based on the two countries’ traditional ties and practical interests.

Currently, no other country in the region could take China’s position to promote the peace progress because China has objective interests here and could fully use its roles as the member of Security Council and the second largest economy in the world.

We all anticipate the positive outcome from the direct talks between leaders of the DPRK and the U.S.. But we do realize no matter what the two sides reach during the meeting, China would keep its irreplaceable role to guarantee the possible agreement into practice and prevent the fragile situation off the track.

Honesty should be paid by honesty thus the U.S. and the DPRK should take chance to try efforts to make peace possible in the region while they shoulder their own responsibilities just like China has been doing.

About Author 
Xu Fangqing, a non-resident fellow with Center for China and Globalization, a senior editor with China News Week. 

From CGTN,2018-5-10