China to Send Special Envoy to North Korea

Friday, 17 Nov, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping will send special envoy Song Tao, the head of China's ruling Communist Party's International Liaison Department, to Pyongyang, according to the announcement. If China succeeds, the "party-to-party" approach can both help North Korea to "save face" and reaffirm China's great achievement with Chinese characteristics.

Visiting Seoul last week, US President Donald Trump warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of American military power to stop any attack, but also urged Pyongyang to "make a deal". Actually, when Song's visit to Vietnam and the Laos was announced earlier, multiple journalists had asked China's foreign ministry if Song would go to North Korea as well, but the ministry remained ambiguous about the question.

On Oct. 25, Kim Jong-un sent a message congratulating Xi on the success of China's party congress. Xi responded by calling for sound and stable ties between Beijing and Pyongyang.

"Even just at a basic level of getting a sense of where Kim Jong Un is at and what are the possibilities", said Delury.

During his Asia trip, while Trump maintained absolute USA opposition to North Korea's nuclear program and the threat of heavy retaliation for any actions against the U.S. or its allies, he did appear to raise the possibility of future talks with Pyongyang.

It is the first time in about two years that a Chinese special envoy has visited Pyongyang.

However, it is unclear where Song will meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

"The reckless remarks spouted by Trump during his junkets can not but be viewed as the final confirmation of the White House's policy hostile to the DPRK, a total denial of the existence of the DPRK and an open declaration of war not to allow the existence of the Korean people any more", it said.

China usually informs other communist countries of the results of the National Congress, so the meeting may not discuss North Korea's ballistic missiles. Trump has faced pressure from congressional lawmakers to re-list the country amid its advancing nuclear missile program, though some fear it could increase already heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

But China seems to have rejected the idea of denuclearization and instead wants the USA to settle for a freeze in North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for a freeze in the US's military drills with South Korea.

Trump says the goal is to "denuclearize" North Korea.

China has repeatedly pushed for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but in recent months has had only limited high-level exchanges with North Korea.

The two countries would also "exchange opinions on matters of mutual concern" during the visit, Geng said.

Trump characterised that endeavour as "tremendously successful", a description disputed by analysts who said little progress had been made on containing North Korea's nuclear program.