N Korea’s Kim leaves China quietly as he had come, leaving a trail of guesswork
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N Korea’s Kim leaves China quietly as he had come, leaving a trail of guesswork

Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and held summit talks with President Xi Jinping hours later, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, adding that after the closed-door talks, Xi hosted a dinner banquet for Kim. Details of their hour-long meeting were not disclosed by China’s official media

world Updated: Jan 10, 2019 10:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Kim Jong-un,Xi Jinping,China
In this Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, photo provided on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks with his wife Ri Sol Ju at Pyongyang Station in Pyongyang, North Korea, before leaving for China. Kim met Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday but no details of their meeting were disclosed by Chinese state media. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)(AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un left Beijing on Wednesday, ending his unannounced visit to China with scarce details emerging about his meetings here with the Chinese leadership.

Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and held summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping hours later, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, adding that after the closed-door talks, Xi hosted a dinner banquet for Kim. Details of their hour-long meeting were not disclosed by China’s official media

Before his departure, Kim is said to have visited a Beijing-based company that produces traditional Chinese medicine.

Questions remain what else did Kim’s fourth visit to China in less than a year produce? Or what else was it expected to produce?

For one, it could have been to send a message that Beijing-Pyongyang ties remain exclusive – China being the poor Communist nation’s closest ally.

It could be as – Chinese state-controlled media said Tuesday – to ensure that Kim has Beijing’s backing at the expected soon-to-be meeting with US President Donald Trump; the two had met last June at a high-profile summit in Singapore.

“My sense of why this visit at this time is that although logistical preparation of the second Trump-Kim summit has reportedly made progress, no real progress has been made on the substantive issues, especially over the key issue of denuclearisation,” Tong Zhao, fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre, said.

“North Korea is not prepared to surrender its nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future and the United States is not backing down from the maximum pressure campaign. This makes Kim feels it may not be so easy for him to trick Trump into making important concessions this time, compared with his easy win at Singapore,” Tong told HT over email.

“Worried about the results of this upcoming summit, Kim wants to publicly show that China has his back and that even if Washington insists on economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, North Korea can still fare well,” he said.

“This could very well be Kim’s negotiating strategy to increase his leverage when he meets Trump soon,” Tong added.

First Published: Jan 09, 2019 21:04 IST