China Trip By North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Ends

Chinese media have confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il did indeed visit China, perhaps underscoring his growing dependence on Chinese support. From BBC:

It was Kim Jong-il’s third visit to China in a year, in a sign of his country’s growing dependence on its neighbour.

The warmth of coverage of his visit, and the flattery of official comments by China, gave Mr Kim much-needed political support, analysts said.

“North Korea is currently focusing its efforts on economic development and we really need a stable environment for this,” the state broadcaster China Central Television quoted Mr Kim as saying.

Mr Kim also said he hoped to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and return to six-nation denuclearisation talks that include China, South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia.

The reports said Mr Kim, seen in his trademark green suit, met Mr Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao ahead of a banquet at the Great Hall of the People.

Chinese media outlets have reported that Kim Jong-Il has agreed to resume six-party talks. From Xinhua:

Kim said the DPRK is now concentrating its attention and resources on economic development, and it is in great need of a stable neighboring environment.

Kim said the DPRK hopes to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, sticks to the objective of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and believes that the six-party talks should be resumed at an early date.

Kim said the DPRK, as always, sincerely hopes relations between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK) could be improved.

Launched in 2003, the six-party talks involved China, the DPRK, the United States, the ROK, Japan and Russia. The talks have been suspended since December 2008.

He told a Senate committee Thursday that China has realized it must step up to defuse the tensions between North and South Korea after recent provocations by the North. China is reclusive North Korea’s only major ally.

The U.S. government may be looking for a window of opportunity to utilize the close China-North Korea relationship. Gary Locke, in confirmation hearings to be the new ambassador to China, has indicated he will ask China to place more pressure on the North Korea regime. From the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to China says the Chinese can and must do more to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, a former governor of Washington state, would be the first Chinese-American to serve as ambassador to China if confirmed.

He told a Senate committee Thursday that China has realized it must step up to defuse the tensions between North and South Korea after recent provocations by the North. China is reclusive North Korea’s only major ally.

North Korea’s dependence on China deepened last year as exports of coal and other minerals to its main ally jumped and global sanctions left Kim Jong Il’s regime increasingly isolated.

China accounted for 83 percent of North Korea’s $4.2 billion of international commerce in 2010, the Seoul-based Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency said today in an e-mailed statement. Commerce with China made up 79 percent of trade in 2009, 67 percent in 2007 and 53 percent in 2005, according to the statement.

Kim returned from a week-long visit to China yesterday that was his third in the past year and which signaled the growing importance of the Beijing government in propping up North Korea’s faltering economy. The U.S. and its allies have criticized China for failing to do enough to restrain the North from provocative acts, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons and deadly attacks on South Korea.

“North Korea’s dependence on China will further grow as global sanctions and suspension of inter-Korean trade continue to be in place,” the South Korean agency, known as Kotra, said.

May 26, 2011 10:55 PM
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