Kim sends his congrats to Xi for 'splendid' Olympics
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a congratulatory message to Chinese President Xi Jinping for hosting a “splendid” Beijing Winter Olympics, Pyongyang’s state media said Tuesday.
“In the message, the respected Comrade Kim Jong-un extended heartfelt warm congratulations to General Secretary Xi Jinping upon the splendid proceeding of the Beijing Winter Olympics as a novel and special grand sports festival,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The closing ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games was held in Beijing on Sunday.
North Korea did not send athletes to Beijing after the International Olympic Committee suspended the North from the games in response to its refusal to show up to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July over Covid-19 concerns.
While the KCNA report did not explicitly mention the Covid-19 pandemic or the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing over the country’s treatment of Hong Kong and its ethnic Uighur minority in Xinjiang, references to the antivirus restrictions and the controversy over the host country human rights record were apparent in Kim’s message.
Kim told Xi that China “left an indelible trace in the history of the Olympics with their indefatigable efforts” despite “an unprecedentedly severe health crisis and the hostile forces' maneuvers,” and “demonstrated the stamina of China,” according to the KCNA.
Kim also stressed solidarity between North Korea and China, having described their relationship in the past as being as close as “lips and teeth,” and commended the Chinese president for “frustrating the undisguised hostile policy and military threat of the U.S. and its satellite forces by strengthening the bilateral strategic cooperation and unity,” and vowed to “more firmly consolidate the DPRK-China relationship into the invincible one,” using the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The message from Kim is the second regarding the games sent by him to Xi. The first was sent on the opening day of the Winter Olympics earlier this month.
An official from the South Korean Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said the congratulatory message was part of a trend of increasing personal contact between Kim and Xi as the North revives diplomatic and economic ties with its traditional allies China and Russia after a prolonged freeze due to the pandemic.
“The exchange of letters appears to be in part aimed at showing that the friendly exchanges between the leaders of North Korea and China can continue even at a time when in-person exchanges are difficult,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
After testing a flurry of missiles in January, Pyongyang did not conduct any major weapons tests during the Winter Olympics, heightening speculation that the launches may resume now that the games are over.
Following the closing of the Olympics, Seoul urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue on Monday.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]