China’s Top Legislator Holds High-Level Talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un

Sat Apr 13 2024
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PYONGYANG: China’s top legislative official, Zhao Leji, met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, where he conveyed Beijing’s commitment to deepening trust and enhancing cooperation, reported by Chinese state media.

Zhao, wrapping up a goodwill tour that commenced on Thursday, marks the highest-ranking Chinese visit to North Korea since 2018, when Li Zhanshu attended the 70th anniversary of the North’s founding.

Ranked third in China’s leadership hierarchy, behind President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang, Zhao’s visit underscores China’s significant role as North Korea’s primary economic supporter and diplomatic ally. China, alongside Russia, has impeded US-led efforts at the UN Security Council to enforce stricter sanctions against Kim’s regime in response to its escalating weapons tests.

In his address, Zhao emphasized the enduring strength of the longstanding friendship between China and the DPRK, as established by previous generations of leaders from both nations. He reiterated Beijing’s unwavering strategic commitment to fostering and enhancing friendly relations with North Korea, according to both Chinese and North Korean state media.

The timing of Zhao’s visit coincides with North Korea’s relaxation of Covid restrictions, signaling Pyongyang’s eagerness to expand diplomatic engagements, particularly with its principal political ally.

During the opening ceremony for China-DPRK Friendship Year, Zhao highlighted the frequent meetings between the top leaders of the two countries in recent years, indicating a robust pattern of high-level engagement.

Speculation in South Korean media suggests that Zhao’s visit may also involve discussions regarding a potential state visit by Kim to Beijing in the near future.

Despite North Korea’s increasingly hostile rhetoric towards South Korea, characterized by labeling Seoul as its “principal enemy” and escalating tensions over territorial disputes, the relationship with Beijing remains steadfastly cooperative.

Zhao’s discussions with his North Korean counterpart, Choe Ryong Hae, reportedly centered on the situation on the Korean peninsula, with Zhao expressing Beijing’s readiness to bolster legislative exchanges and cooperation with Pyongyang, reported by China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

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