China has vindicated reports that Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has recently made a visit to Beijing. China reports that it earned a pledge from Mr Kim that he would start working towards a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.
China announced that Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping met during an unofficial visit that lasted from Sunday till Wednesday. The trip is the first known excursion of the North Korean leader since he came into power in 2011 and is speculated to be part of a preparation for future talks with the United States and South Korea.
China has historically been a close ally of the secretive North Korean state, but this relationship has been soured by Kim Jong-un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Chinese support of reactionary UN sanctions against him.
According to Chinese news media, Mr Kim said to Mr Xi that he was improving the situation around the Korean Peninsula due to his proposed peace talks with the United States and South Korea. Mr Kim allegedly said that North Korea was “committed to denuclearisation” and that this was a “consistent” stance.
He also allegedly said that this goal could be achieved if the US and South Korea “respond to our efforts with goodwill”. He said that it was necessary to take “progressive and synchronous measures” in order to realise peace in the region.
It was reported that President Xi accepted Mr Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea. He allegedly told Mr Kim that the traditional friendship between them should continue developing.
President Xi said that it was a “strategic choice” and was correct when looking at “history and reality” as well as the “general situation” of Chinese-North Korean ties. He also said this “should not and will not” be different due to “any single event”.
There was a great deal of speculation before this announcement due to a train that looked similar to one used by Kim Jong-un’s father being seen with heavy security in Beijing. A South Korean news agency reported that Mr Kim has travelled from North Korea with his wife.
A senior official in South Korea said that an improvement of Chinese-North Korean ties would be a good sign prior to the start of planned meetings between both Koreas and the US. This recent visit is mirrored by a trip made by Kim Jong-il in 2000 which was also prior to a meeting between both Koreas.