North Korea congratulates China for party's 100th, sends flowers
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to elevate relations with China to a “new strategic point” in a congratulatory message to Chinese President Xi Jinping to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party Thursday in another indication of Pyongyang growing even chummier with Beijing.
Kim said in the message that "hostile forces" are engaged in "vicious slander and all-round pressure" upon China in what appears to be a reference to the rising Sino-U.S. rivalry, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in an English-language report Thursday.
Kim described such pressure as “no more than a last-ditch attempt” that “can never check the on-going advance of the Chinese people.”
He also stated that “despite the complicated international situation, the two parties and the two countries” will “advance toward a brighter future, tiding over difficulties and ordeals by dint of their militant friendship and bonds of kinship.”
Kim also confirmed “firm unity” between their two countries which would raise North Korea and China’s “friendship to a new strategic point” which will “encourage the socialist construction, the cause common to the two parties, to vigorously advance despite any change of the situation and challenges.”
Such a message comes amid the Joe Biden administration’s push for closer coordination between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington in the region, as North Korea is seen to be tipping toward China and Russia.
The Biden administration has been sending overtures for engagement with Pyongyang since the completion of its comprehensive review of policy on North Korea.
However, Pyongyang has so far rebuffed Washington’s diplomatic outreach, including through a visit by Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, to Seoul last month. U.S. nuclear envoy Kim said he is ready to meet with the North “anywhere, anytime, without preconditions,” during his visit to Seoul for talks with Korean and Japanese counterparts.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon said last week that Pyongyang is “not considering even the possibility of any contact” with the United States, which he said “would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time.”
The North Korean leader’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong last month also said Washington’s hope for dialogue will only lead to a "greater disappointment.” However, the U.S. State Department said it remains open to diplomacy with the North and will wait for a positive response.
While unable to attend China’s celebrations in person because of Covid-19, Kim Jong-un sent a floral basket bearing his name to Xi to mark the 100th founding anniversary, according to the KCNA in a separate report.
The North Korean ambassador to Beijing conveyed the floral basket from Kim to the head of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee.
The message on the ribbon read: "Warm congratulations on the 100th founding anniversary” of the Chinese Communist Party.
While rejecting U.S. diplomatic advances, North Korea has also been speaking out against Japan in state-run media over its war aggressions linked to its colonial rule over the peninsula, “illegal whaling” practices and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. North Korea will not be partaking in the Olympics which kick off later this month, which could have been one opportunity to renew dialogue with the United States, as well as South Korea and Japan.
North Korea has shut its borders since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of last year and has faced additional economic hardships and food shortage amid international sanctions. Thus, Pyongyang may be relying on Beijing for leverage amid such economic difficulties, especially as the Biden administration maintains it will adhere to strict sanctions amid its diplomatic outreach to the North.
Kim Jong-un admitted in a recent ruling Workers' Party Central Committee to such food shortages, and this week in a Politburo meeting appears to have reshuffled senior officials as he chastised them for issues related to the country’s Covid-19 measures.
Chinese President Xi in turn marked the centenary of the party with a speech in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and said his people “will never allow foreign forces to bully, oppress or enslave us,” in remarks seeming to target Washington.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]