First visit in 14 years . . .
China’s President Xi Jinping will visit Pyongyang on June 20 and 21, having accepted a long-standing invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It will be the first time a Chinese president has visited the Hermit Kingdom in 14 years, and many analysts say it is long overdue. China and North Korea are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations this year, and Kim has gone to China on four occasions in recent times.
Choosing sides, leveraging relationships . . .
Beyond diplomatic proprieties, Xi’s decision to visit Pyongyang is being widely read as China’s response to increasing pressure from the U.S. The ongoing trade war and the Huawei 5G dispute notwithstanding, Washington has irked Beijing by offering support to both Taiwan and Hong Kong – pursuing the sale of up to US$2-billion in weaponry to Taipei, and supporting the anti-extradition law protesters in Hong Kong. Xi’s visit, a show of Chinese relations with North Korea, raises concerns for the U.S. with the stalling of its denuclearization talks with Pyongyang ahead of the G20 meeting. Analysts believe the Chinese president will use his meeting with Kim as leverage in the bilateral superpower trade standoff.
What role for Canada? . . .
An ideal role here for Canada would be to facilitate engagement between the two superpowers as tensions continue to mount. For instance, Canada hosted the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in January 2018, bringing together key stakeholders. However, with Canada’s relationship with Beijing at rock bottom following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, Canada’s foreign policy options are severely limited in a world increasingly defined by the ongoing U.S.-China fissure.
- The Korea Herald: S. Korea, China discussed Xi’s N. Korea trip plan: Cheong Wa Dae
- South China Morning Post: Chinese president Xi Jinping to make first official trip to North Korea this week