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Kim Jong Un and Chinese Official Discuss Strategic Cooperation and Friendship

Daniel Kim Views  

김정은 나서 극진 대접한 중국 '서열 3위'…북중 정상회담 이어지나
Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, met with Zhao Leji, the third-ranking official of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, who visited North Korea on the 13th. They discussed ways to expand and strengthen exchanges and cooperation to develop friendly cooperative relations in the Year of North Korea-China Friendship, according to the Korean Central News Agency reported on the 14th.

Kim Jong Un warmly welcomed Zhao Leji, the third-ranking official of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, who visited North Korea. This is interpreted as a will to narrow the distance with China, which had been relatively distant recently.

In photos released by North Korean media, such as the Korean Central News Agency, on the 14th, Kim expresses intimacy with Zhao by walking hand in hand or hugging him. He also sends off Zhao, who is leaving in a car, with a Chinese-style thank-you gesture by joining hands.

Zhao Leji, who is equivalent to the Speaker of the National Assembly in Korea, arrived in Pyongyang on the 11th, had a meeting with his counterpart Choe Ryong Hae, Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly Standing Committee, attended the opening ceremony of the Year of North Korea-China Friendship on the 12th, and met with Kim Jong Un on the 13th before leaving Pyongyang. Kim emphasized at the meeting with Zhao that “the relationship between the two countries is constantly developing to a new and higher level in line with the demands of the new era” and “this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between North Korea and China and the Year of North Korea-China Friendship, and we will write a new chapter in North Korea-China relations.” Zhao responded to Kim, saying, “I am willing to promote practical and mutually beneficial cooperation with North Korea to achieve new results and protect common interests.”

There is attention in the political arena on whether this meeting will lead to a North Korea-China summit. Kim and President Xi Jinping have not met face-to-face since the two summits held in January 2019, when Kim visited China and Xi visited North Korea in June of the same year. Since then, North Korea has closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has maintained a passive diplomatic stance.

However, since the second half of last year, North Korea has been actively cooperating with Russia, which needed conventional weapons due to the war with Ukraine. Amid this circumstance, North Korea desired China to participate in securing the new Cold War structure between South Korea, the U.S.-Japan, and North Korea-China-Russia, which China kept aloof. There is speculation that a North Korea-China summit could be held on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, as the need to manage North Korea has emerged from the perspective of maintaining influence over North Korea as North Korea and Russia have become closer politically, economically, and militarily.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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