Kim Faces Battle to Get to Xi’s Side

There have been rumors of Kim Jong Eun visiting China ever since he came to power. However, North Korea’s addiction to making trouble in Northeast Asia has led China to reject North Korean advances on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, North Korea is certain to keep knocking on the door of Beijing, since such a visit is important to the cohesion of the ruling consensus in Pyongyang.

If Kim Jong Eun does not travel to China this year, he will risk losing the confidence of his supporters. Currently Kim is not being treated as a leader by North Korea’s biggest ally. He is also in need of greater economic support.

Yet the two sides’ relations have worsened since President Xi Jinping came to power in Beijing because of Kim’s need to show off his possession of nuclear weapons. In May, Xi pressured North Korea by telling Choi Ryong Hae, who had travelled to China as an envoy from Kim, that no matter how the situation may change, denuclearization should be pursued.

Xinhuna News Agency recently reported that when Vice President Li Yuanchao visited North Korea in late July, he also passed on a message to Kim Jong Eun, namely that “China wants to realize denuclearization, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and solve problems through dialogue and compromise.”

It is also said that Kim Jong Eun visited Vice President Li himself during the latter’s visit, in order to express his desire to visit China. However, Vice President Li rejected his overtures, telling him that it would do no good to visiting Beijing at the current time, and that Xi and other top leaders would be unable to meet him.

On this, Park Hyung Jung, a senior researcher with the Korea Institute for National Uniffication, told Daily NK, “The key factor in the North Korea-China relationship is whether North Korea is on the way to denuclearization. China wants to hold the Six-Party Talks, but North Korea wants to enter into dialogue as an established nuclear power.”

“China is unlikely to accept Kim Jong Eun’s visit until North Korea changes its attitude,” he predicted, going on, “I predict that North Korea will try various conciliatory proposals with South Korea and the United States during the second half of the year. That way they can tell China that their efforts have been in vain because of the stiff attitude of the United States and South Korea.”