China-North Korea relations likely to change dramatically ahead of Kerry visit

Jun 01, 2016, 08:00 am

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By Hong Soon-do, Beijing correspondent, AsiaToday - It seems North Korea's relations with China and the United States as well as its nuclear issue could face dramatic changes. Furthermore, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may pay visit to China.

Ri Su-yong (second left below), vice chairman of the North Korean rulingWorkers' Party of Korea, visited China on May 31. Ri took the picture few yearsago with aides of Sung Kehung, the power behind the throne in China./ Source:Hong Soon-do

Such outlook mainly comes from the fact that North Korea's vice party chairman Ri Su-yong, one of the key aides of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, arrived in Beijing Tuesday with a large entourage of officials. Ri's visit marks the first time any ranking North Korean official has visited China since North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test back in January. This is quite uncommon considering the fact that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Beijing on June 5-7 for the eighth U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. This makes it quite possible to assume that there have been under-the-table deals among North Korea, China, and the U.S. in order to ease their strained relations over nuclear issue.

Considering various circumstances, it's hard to say that such analysis is an exaggeration. Most of all, we should mention that China is stepping up to conclude a peace treaty between North Korea and the U.S.. Many doubt that China is actively seeking mediation to improve relations with the U.S.. If it's the case, its strained relations with North Korea will naturally improve. While there are buzzing rumors concerning Kim Jong-un's China visit, this might be done as well.

Another thing to look for is that China is planning to offer food aid to North Korea in return for holding back on conducting the fifth nuclear test. Moreover, North Korea's offensive moves towards South for dialogues, and the situation that Kim Jong-un has firmly consolidated his power base through the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea can be seen in the same context.

Although once described as "closer than lips and teeth," North Korea-China relations have been chilly these days. However, things are very likely to change dramatically with Ri Su-yong's Beijing visit. At the same time, North Korea's nuclear issue and the strained relations between North Korea and the United States are likely to improve as well.

#Ri Su-yong #John Kerry #China #nuclear issue #Kim Jong-un 
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