Leaders of China and North Korea reaffirm their traditional alliance following controversial talks between senior Washington and Beijing diplomats and the diplomatic isolation and economic problems in the North that have made it more in addition dependent on the Chinese.
The official North Korean Central News Agency said on Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un called for stronger unity and cooperation with China in the face of challenges posed by hostile forces in exchanging messages with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
According to KCNA and China’s Xinhua News Agency, Xi in his own message to Kim described the bilateral relationship as a valuable asset to the two countries and pledged to make unspecified contributions to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
KCNA said Xi is also committed to providing better lives for the people of both countries.
Some analysts saw this as an indication that China would soon provide North Korea with much-needed food, fertilizer and other aid, which had been drastically reduced due to the pandemic border closure.
Xinhua said the leaders’ messages were exchanged during a meeting between top Chinese diplomat Song Tao and North Korean ambassador to China Ri Ryong Nam at a meeting in Beijing on Monday.
The exchange between the leaders took place as the Biden administration stepped up diplomatic efforts to strengthen cooperation with Asian allies, South Korea and Japan, to address the North Korean nuclear threat and the China’s growing regional influence.
Last week, senior U.S. and Chinese officials traded sharp and unusually public beards in Alaska in their first face-to-face meetings since President Joe Biden took office, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was united with its allies to repel Chinese authoritarianism. .
The controversial talks in Anchorage came after Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Japan and South Korea for talks that focused primarily on North Korea and China.
During his visit to Seoul, Blinken harshly criticized North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and human rights record and urged China to use its enormous influence to convince the North to denuclearize.
The North has so far ignored the Biden administration’s efforts to reach out, saying it will not engage in meaningful talks with the United States unless Washington abandons what Pyongyang sees as a hostile policy, which clearly refers to the sanctions and pressure led by the United States on its nuclear power. program.
KCNA said Kim addressed the state of the North’s relations with the United States and South Korea and said communication between him and Xi is necessary in the face of changing external situations and reality, apparently referring to the new US administration.
Kim’s message underscored the need to strengthen unity and cooperation between the two sides and the two countries to deal with the global challenges and obstruction movements of hostile forces, KCNA said.
While North Korea continued its diplomacy with the United States from 2018, it has also worked to strengthen relations with China, its traditional ally and economic lifeline.
But Kim has nothing to show for his ambitious summits with then-President Trump, which collapsed in 2019 over disagreements over trading the release of crippling US-led sanctions against Korea. of the North and the disarmament measures of the North.
The North’s economic woes have been compounded by pandemic border closures and devastating natural disasters that wiped out crops last summer. At a ruling party convention in January, Kim vowed to further expand the North’s nuclear program and urged his people to be resilient in the fight for economic self-sufficiency.
The South Korean spy agency told lawmakers late last year that North Korea’s trade volume with China fell 75% in the first 10 months of 2020.
This led to a shortage of raw materials that plunged the operating rate of the North plant to its lowest level since Kim took power in late 2011, and a fourfold increase in the price of imported foods like sugar and seasonings, according to lawmakers who summed up the agency’s shutdown. – door briefing to journalists.
Responding to Blinken’s comments on China’s role in pushing the North to denuclearize, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China advocates a two-pronged approach to nuclear power generation. question, according to which the United States would offer security guarantees to North Korea in exchange for Pyongyang’s nuclear abandonment. weapons programs.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
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