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Kim congratulates Xi on China’s anniversary

Oct 02,2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping Tuesday on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, saying friendship and cooperation between the two allies will continuously develop in line with “the needs of the new era.”

The state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English report that Kim sent “a message of greeting” to Xi on Tuesday in commemoration of the Chinese national holiday, through which Kim lauded Xi’s country for “making giant strides toward the higher goal of building a modern socialist power.”

Bilateral ties between North Korea and China “will develop with added vitality day by day in line with the needs of the new era and the common desire of the peoples of the two countries,” Kim told Xi, according to the KCNA.

The report did not mention the exact length of Kim’s message to Xi, but the KCNA report was substantially longer than the KCNA report published five years ago about Kim congratulating Xi when China celebrated the 65th anniversary of its founding.

Attesting to sour Pyongyang-Beijing relations at the time, the KCNA published only about three to four lines on Kim’s congratulatory message.

Some local experts believe Kim may visit China in the coming days for a summit with Xi, perhaps around Sunday, when the two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Fanning this speculation is the resumption of working-level denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington later this week after a long stalemate - and the possibility of another summit between Kim and Trump by the end of this year.

Kim met Trump three times in the past, and before each meeting, he met Xi to seek advice.

South Korea’s spy chief, National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon, said last week that Kim might visit China around Sunday to strengthen bilateral ties and share knowledge on Pyongyang-Washington talks.

Another source with knowledge of North Korean affairs said Kim’s possible visit to China was a good opportunity to highlight the North-China alliance and their 70 years of diplomatic relations.

But Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, referenced the 50th and 60th anniversaries of Pyongyang-Beijing ties in explaining why he thinks neither leader of the two countries will visit one another this year, saying North Korea’s former leader Kim Jong-il didn’t meet with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 1999, nor did he meet Jiang’s successor, Hu Jintao, in 2009.

Yet the aforementioned North Korean affairs source denied Cho’s conjecture, saying he thinks Kim Jong-un will meet Xi even for the sake of pressuring Washington to offer what Pyongyang thinks are adequate reciprocal measures for its steps toward denuclearization.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, BAEK MIN-JEONG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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