Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said he hopes Beijing and Pyongyang will pursue “sustainable soundness and stable development” in relations.
“I wish that, under the new situation, the Chinese side would make efforts with the DPRK side to promote the relations between the two parties and the two countries to sustainable soundness and stable development,” North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Xi as having said in a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday.
“Thus [both] make a positive contribution to providing the peoples of the two countries with more wonderful happiness and defending regional peace and stability and common prosperity.”
The message was a response to a letter sent by Kim Jong Un congratulating Xi on his reelection at the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last week, in which he wished the Chinese leader “great success in his responsible works” and expressed his desire that bilateral relations “would develop in the interests of the people of the two countries.”
Xi on Wednesday expressed “sincere thanks” to Kim, as well as to the DPRK’s Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
“I wish the Korean people steadily fresh successes in the cause of socialist construction under the leadership of the WPK headed by Chairman Kim Jong Un,” he added.
Relations between the traditional allies have taken a hit this year, with Beijing siding with the U.S. on international sanctions and agreeing to new limitations on everything from coal imports to petroleum exports in an effort to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.
The strain in relations has seen state media issues several thinly-veiled criticisms of Chinese policy towards the DPRK. Tuesday saw KCNA carry a statement by two North Korean organizations condemning recent proposals by Beijing for a suspension of North Korean missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a pause in joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
“What some countries argue is ‘dual suspension’… is irresponsible behavior which doesn’t understand the essence and causality of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” the statement read.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Thursday said Seoul believed Beijing might soon dispatch a high-ranking official to visit the DPRK.
The weeks following the CPC’s 18th Congress in 2012 saw Beijing dispatch Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress, to meet with Kim Jong Un.
“We believe that it will happen in some way this time, but we will wait and see,” the MOU official – who wished to remain anonymous – told media.
The most recent Chinese official to have visited the North was Liu Zhenmin, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, who in October last year attended the third meeting of “the Korea-China Border Joint Commission” in Pyongyang.
The MOU, however, declined to comment on whether it believed relations between Beijing and Pyongyang were improving.
“China has been actively promoting bilateral relations with Beijing and Seoul since the party congress, but there is need to keep close tabs on how they take the position on the relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing,” the official said.
South Korea and China on Monday issued a joint statement normalizing bilateral relations, which have been strained in the months following the deployment of the U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean peninsula, which Beijing opposes.
“The two sides reaffirmed the realization of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and principle of resolving the North Korean issue in a peaceful manner,” a statement by the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) read. “Both agree to further strengthen strategic communication and cooperation.”
Featured Image: The State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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