Hatim Khan – 29.03.2018- The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited China on his first foreign trip since assuming power in 2011, to meet President Xi Jinping, in a trip lasted from last Sunday to Wednesday.  The North Korean leader is said to have travelled with his wife Ri Sol Ju and was received by his Chinese counterpart in a show of warm welcome.

The trip is reported to have been an “unofficial” one by Xinhua, the official Chinese media channel. Xinhua also reported that the purpose of the visit from Kim was to update Xi personally on the ongoing developments in the Korean peninsula ahead of the summit between North Korea and South Korea in April “out of comradeship and moral responsibility”. China being the regional power and North Koreas closest trade ally also has a massive stake in the ongoing process to bring peace to the region. Through the visit of Kim, China has been able to secure a permanent place on the negotiation table and North Korea has made it sure that they do not enter in to negotiation with United States the following May without a strong ally to reach a more favorable outcome in the negotiation.

In the trip, Kim assured the Chinese leader his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to meeting the US president Donlad Trump in order to find a peaceful solution. This approach is quiet contrary to the one the world witnessed last year as North Korean leader opted for a very harsh rhetoric while continuing its nuclear ambitions and carried out nuclear tests. Analysts say that the UN sanctions in place have forced North Korea’s hands and come to the negotiation table by drastically impacting its economy negatively

In response to the state visit, Donald Trump tweeted the following on Wednesday;

Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!

It should however be noted that the relationship between China and North Korea has not been all roses in the recent past. China not being comfortable with the North Korean vision of becoming a nuclear power had backed UN sanctions on North Korea. In addition to that, Kim Jong Un had also executed his half-brother Kim Jong-nam who lived in exile in Beijing. He had very close ties to China and was under their protection because, in his own words, "having the son of the former leader of a neighboring country under their protection could be a political card that the Chinese could use at some time in the future”.

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