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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The Chinese president on Thursday said Beijing supports Pyongyang establishing favorable conditions for “self-development” by expediting the political settlement of issues on the Korean peninsula, DPRK state-run media reported on Friday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a grand banquet for Chinese president Xi Jinping on Thursday night, party daily the Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, adding that the talks at proceeded in a “warm and amicable atmosphere.”
In his speech at the banquet, Xi emphasized that Beijing stands by Pyongyang’s roadmap to promote conditions for independent economic development by striving to resolve nuclear issues.
The Chinese party, government, and people, Xi said, support the North Korean party and people “creating a great environment for self-development by adhering to the road of socialism, implementing the new strategic line, and accelerating the course of the political settlement of the peninsula” under the guidance of Kim Jong Un.
The Chinese President has repeatedly expressed support for the North’s new strategic line of prioritizing socialist economic construction over the nuclear program, announced by Kim Jong Un in April last year.
In his speech, Xi also expressed his “will to jointly carve out a beautiful future of permanent peace and co-prosperity in the region… by inheriting history, improving the future, and uniting and cooperating with the DPRK side.”
“He also expressed the belief that the cause of the DPRK’s socialism would steadily lead to new and bigger successes and step towards a more beautiful future under the guidance of the Workers’ Party of Korea headed by comrade Chairman Kim Jong Un.”
Xi also said that the North Korean party and people have been “coming together with a single mind to make a new leap forward in the socialist construction,” emphasizing that they have been “overcoming a variety of ordeals and difficulties with resolute struggle” under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un.
Hailing Xi’s visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean leader said in his speech that the “citizens’ enthusiastic cheers in every street of Pyongyang today depict the deep and friendly feelings of our Party and people towards the respected comrade general secretary and the Chinese party and people.”
That cheering, Kim said, was “a strong demonstration of the great DPRK-China friendship.”
“The comrade general secretary’s visit serves as great political support and encouragement to the DPRK party members and people who rise up together for the goals of the cause of the socialism,” he said.
The North Korean leader said that Pyongyang and Beijing had confirmed the “truth that socialism is the unchangeable core of the DPRK-China friendship” through the previous four summits, and that the “specialness and invincibility of the DPRK and China exists when they work together to hold fast and glorify socialism.”
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM DPRK MEDIA
Although the North Korean state-run media remained silent on the fifth Kim-Xi summit on Thursday, news praising the Chinese President’s “state visit” began to emerge on Friday morning.
The Rodong, for instance, published a ten-page special edition on Friday, dedicating eight pages to the meeting.
State broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV) then aired two videos showing the welcoming ceremonies and the special mass games at 1500 local time.
Xi’s welcoming ceremony was, notably, held at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are displayed.
The Chinese President’s visit to the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and group photograph with Politburo members, too, seems to be an unprecedented move by a foreign leader.
The North Korean party daily featured Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju greeting Xi at Sunan Airport on its front page, where a welcoming ceremony was held in the presence of “enthusiastically cheering children, students, and masses.”
The Chinese president was welcomed by a number of high-profile North Korean officials, including member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee of Pak Pong Ju.
The North Korean media reported that Ri Man Gon, Ri Su Yong, Choe Hwi, Kim Yong Chol, Ri Yong Ho, Kim Yo Jong, and DPRK ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong were also present, alongside commanding officials of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Kim Su Gil, Ri Yong Gil, and No Kwang Chol.
Another welcoming ceremony, with the song claiming the “friendship of the DPRK and China will last forever” playing in the background, took place at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
The North Korean media described the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun as the place where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, “who established the noble tradition of the DPRK-China friendship and cultivated it preciously with genuine revolutionary fidelity, lie in a state of immorality.”
KCNA and the Rodong said that the streets were full of North Korean citizens: “the roads that resonated with cheers of ‘DPRK-China friendship’ and ‘welcome’ were heated with the sentiment of amity and enthusiasm for the Chinese people who have shared joys and sorrows, firmly holding hands along the one path of socialism.”
At the plaza, first vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Choe Ryong Hae, as well as premier of the Cabinet Kim Jae Ryong, greeted Xi.
Xi and the First Lady also stayed at the Kumsusan State Guest House, which Pyongyang is likely to have rapidly built in recent months in anticipation of a pending visit by a VIP.
At the Kumsusan State Guest House, the North Korean media reported that Kim and Xi had held a “broad exchange of opinions over grave international and regional matters, including the situation of the Korean peninsula” at a meeting Thursday afternoon.
The two leaders “reached a common understanding of the issues discussed” at the summit, which was said to have taken place in a “comradery, serious, and candid atmosphere.”
From the North Korean side, Choe Ryong Hae, Kim Jae Ryong, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the SPA Ri Su Yong, and director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA Kim Su Kil attended the DPRK-PRC summit.
It is also noteworthy that Kim Jong Un met Xi at the headquarters of the WPK Central Committee on Thursday afternoon.
The Chinese and North Korean leaders had a “meaningful photo session with members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee,” North Korean media reported.
Xi exchanged greetings with members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee one by one as Kim introduced them, the KCNA reported, continuing that the “bonds of comradely trust between the two parties deepened” through the event.
Kim, Xi, and the First Ladies then took a “meaningful photo” with the politburo members, with the Party Central Committee building in the background, KCNA and the Rodong said.
“They leave an immortal picture that will pass on and on through the history of the DPRK and Chinese parties for a long time,” a Korean-language report said.
Xi was reportedly accompanied during the two-day trip by head of the National Development and Reform Commission He Lifeng, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, and director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee Ding Xuexiang.
Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee of Yang Jiechi and State Councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi were also part of the entourage, along with member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Admiral Miao Hua and head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Song Tao.
Edited by James Fretwell and Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)