North Korea nuclear crisis

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in China for two-day trip ‘to brief Xi Jinping on Donald Trump summit’

Kim’s third trip to China comes a week after his talks with US president in Singapore

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 4:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 8:44pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has landed in Beijing, a week after his landmark summit with US President Donald Trump, Chinese state media reported on Tuesday.

Kim will be in the Chinese capital for two days on his third visit to China, after a secret first trip to Beijing in late March and a second one to China’s northeastern coastal city of Dalian in early May.

A North Korean freight plane, which transported Kim’s limousine to Singapore, landed in Beijing earlier on Tuesday.

Nikkei Asian Review, citing unidentified sources, reported on Tuesday that Kim was expected to brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his summit with Trump and discuss a future negotiating strategy.

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Sue Mi Terry, a Korea expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told the South China Morning Post that Kim’s recent engagement in diplomacy meant that frequent visits to China and meetings with Xi, rather than phone calls, made sense.

Kim would be expected to brief Xi about his meeting with Trump and get China involved more deeply in his diplomacy, Terry said after the Review report was published.

The emerging visit by Kim comes a week after his meeting with US President Donald Trump – the first by a North Korean leader with a sitting US president – and follows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visits to Seoul and Beijing last week.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that his historic meeting with Kim was “being praised and celebrated all over Asia” and that he believed the denuclearisation deal “does save potentially millions & millions of lives!”

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In Beijing last week, Pompeo said one of his goals in meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was to stress “the importance of China being a constructive participant in the next steps” after the Trump-Kim summit.

“There remains hard work” and “difficult days” in denuclearisation negotiations with North Korea, Pompeo said.

During a joint press conference with Pompeo, Wang said China would like the US and North Korea to see the summit as “a new starting point” from which they can “maintain a momentum of dialogue and consultation, accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns, and work with other parties to advance the process of denuclearisation and the political settlement of the peninsula issue”.

“China will continue to play a positive role in this process,” Wang added.

But Chris Johnson, a former China analyst at the CIA, said China was dealing with some “significant concerns” regarding the implications of the Trump-Kim summit.

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A direct dialogue between US-North Korea could weaken China’s influence over Pyongyang, Johnson said at a Centre for Strategic and International Studies event on Monday in Washington.

China may also have a perception that North Korea may “unleash some massive strategic reorientation” in its policy to join a US coalition against China, Johnson added.