Three highlights bound up with Xi's visit to the DPRK


(Photo: CGTN)

Editor's note: Xu Fangqing is a senior editor at China News Week and an observer of affairs in the Northeastern Asia and China's neighboring countries.

As China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the DPRK from June 20 to 21. The leaders of the two countries will hold their 5th meeting since 2018. It will also be the first state visit by a Chinese president to Pyongyang since October 2005.

DPRK's leader Kim Jong Un has visited China four times since March 2018. The possibility for peace on the Korean Peninsula has increased dramatically in the past year, as there have been more engagements among the major stakeholders in the region. Most notably, the summits between leaders of the DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the United States, have taken place despite the zig-zag progress.

Although the final peace agreement has not yet been reached, all sides have increased their understanding of each other as well as their confidence in achieving a solution to the nuclear issue through talks. 

However, due to the so-called ultra-pressure tactics of the Trump administration, efforts made by the relevant parties have not led to a substantial breakthrough yet. Apart from the political standstill, the DPRK's slipping international trade, including that between Beijing and Pyongyang, has also illustrated the negative impact of the deadlock. 

With the turbulence in the region, we could see President Xi's state visit through the following three perspectives.

First, the visit will bring bilateral ties to a new level, as the bond between the two neighbors has overcome the ups and downs of the past 70 years. The Chinese Communist Party announced that China had entered a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics back in 2017, and the DPRK made a strategic choice to embrace economic development in 2018.

What Beijing and Pyongyang share in common is not only their social system but also their insistence that they should develop their countries with their own respective characteristics. Moreover, the legacy of long-term cooperation, and even fighting together in the early 1950s, assures mutual trust and deep engagements.

I was impressed by the detailed and comprehensive questions about the Chinese economy and social development from the officials and ordinary citizens of the DPRK during my last two trips to the country in the past two years. People in the country are gravely concerned about what has happened in China.

It's easy to imagine that bilateral relations would come to a new level for both countries and parties in the wake of President Xi's visit. 

Second, this state visit will contribute to breaking the standoff in the Peninsula peace progress. China has been a positive player in dealing with the nuclear issue in the region. And the peace negotiations over the past year almost followed the track China proposed based on the principles of "double suspension" and the "dual-track approach of denuclearizing the Peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other."

At the same time, only a multilateral and stable mechanism and not unilateral negotiating tactics or ambition can safeguard the temporary achievements and help finalize a peace deal. More experts should join in the talks along with diplomats and politicians, as some areas of the negotiation may need people with expertise.

Third, the visit will bring a new opportunity for regional and economic cooperation and integration.

A peaceful environment in northeastern Asia would vitalize regional economic development and help to forge closer ties among countries like China, Russia, Mongolia, the DPRK, the ROK and Japan.

A series of breakthroughs have been made over the past year, as leaders of the DPRK, the ROK and the US held summits with each other, discussing ways to solve DPRK's nuclear issue. All sides have realized that only through talks could they bring peace and development to the region.

Apart from the improving DPRK-US relationship, Sino-Japan ties have also seen a thawing of a long-term stalemate regarding historical and territorial disputes. Such stable and positive bilateral relations would also benefit peace on the Peninsula.

We hope that Xi's upcoming visit will strengthen the confidence of all parties involved in the region and achieve the final goal as well as that all sides spare no effort to nurse the "fragile peace" and work together to keep the uncertainty at bay.