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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he is open to developing a “grand plan” with North Korea to achieve permanent stability in the region, in a rare contribution to the Wednesday edition of the DPRK’s ruling party daily.
The article, titled “Let us continuously engrave a new chapter of the era inheriting the friendship of China and the DPRK” and carried on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun, comes a day before President Xi is set to begin a two-day state visit to the North.
Xi’s trip will be the first of its kind to the North by a Chinese leader since 2005, when then-leader Hu Jintao visited the country and met with the late Kim Jong Il.
“The Chinese side is willing to draw up a grand plan… working with DPRK comrades to realize permanent peace in the region,” Xi wrote, hailing the fact that a “general trend for peace and dialogue has been established on the Korean peninsula.”
Thanks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “right determination and joint efforts made by each relevant party,” he continued, “a rare and historic opportunity which can politically resolve issues on the Korean peninsula” has been created.
Beijing is pleased to see Pyongyang “receiving general recognition and expectations from the international community,” he said, pledging to use his upcoming visit to “develop a new phase for peace and stability in the region by strengthening communication, dialogue, and coordination and cooperation.”
The “pursuit of a political resolution process” to issues on the Korean peninsula as well as the creation of safeguards of regional peace and stability are in line with both sides’ need for development and the commen interests of their peoples, the Chinese President said.
“The Chinese side supports the DPRK holding fast to the right direction of resolving issues of the Korean peninsula and solving its rational matters of concern through dialogue,” he said.
“Our side will actively contribute to the regional peace and stability as well as development and prosperity by strengthening communication and coordination with the DPRK and each party [concerned].”
Wednesday’s contribution “appears to be the first time that a visiting Chinese president or CPC general secretary contributed an article to North Korea’s party daily,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News’s sister site NK Pro, said.
“This, taken together with the rare “state visit” status accorded to Xi’s visit, underscores the significance that the two sides are attaching to the upcoming event.”
Chinese and North Korean media on Monday announced that Xi would pay a “state visit” to Pyongyang from June 20 to 21 “at the invitation” of Kim Jong Un.
“Xi’s article for the Rodong Sinmun indicates that China wants to use Xi’s visit to further elevate DPRK-PRC relations and maintain or even expand its role in Korean affairs,” Lee added.
“Given the special handling of Xi’s visit by both sides, it might even be possible that the two sides announce a declaration or an accord after the Kim-Xi summit in Pyongyang.”
Through his upcoming summit with the North Korean leader — the fifth between the two leaders — Xi in his article on Wednesday said he would seek to “shape friendly and cooperative relations and engrave a new chapter of traditional relations of the DPRK-China friendship.”
“Due to the guidance of myself and comrade chairman Kim Jong Un and joint efforts, China-DPRK relations stand on the cusp of a new historical departure point after 70 years of an illustrious journey and shows fresh liveness and vitality.”
Repeating previous commitments, the Chinese President said this week’s talks will serve as a chance to “give new content to the traditional DPRK-China friendship by strengthening strategic communication and exchanges and learning from each other.”
“We will be well-prepared for a blueprint for the development of China-DPRK relations based on the excellent tradition and humanitarian role of high-level exchanges,” Xi said, promising to “strengthen the communication and coordination at various levels, deepen party-to-party exchanges, and exchange experiences of managing a country.”
Both sides will also “expand and develop civilian and friendly exchanges,” he added, while implementing the current agreements between them.
“We will extend exchanges and cooperation in various fields, including education, culture, sports, tourism, youth, rural areas, and people’s lives to contribute to the development of the two countries and enhance the welfare of the people of the two countries.”
The expansion of exchanges, Xi argued, will give a “new momentum to the development of China-DPRK relations,” while also pledging his “unwaveringly support” for North Korea’s “new strategic” line of prioritizing economic development over the nuclear program.
Pyongyang, the Chinese President said, was “making new and greater achievements in socialist construction by achieving a strategic line and concentrating all its energy into economic development and the improvement of the people’s livelihood.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA