Xi to send top official to North Korea anniversary celebrations
Chinese President Xi Jinping will send a close ally to North Korea's 70th-anniversary celebrations, it was announced yesterday, following speculations he would use the occasion to make his first official Pyongyang trip. Li Zhanshu, a member of the Communist Party's seven-member politburo standing committee and the head of the legislature, was invited by the North Korean government and its ruling Workers' Party. Here's more.
Xi has never traveled to N-Korea since coming to power
North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Li's delegation would visit the country from Saturday. The anniversary of the nation's founding in 1948 falls on Sunday. President Xi has never traveled to Pyongyang since coming to power in 2012, as relations worsened over the North Korea's missile and nuclear tests and China's subsequent backing of United Nations sanctions.
Last Chinese President to visit North Korea was Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao in 2005 was the last Chinese president to visit N-Korea, and the last top Chinese leader to go was the then-premier Wen Jiabao in 2009. But relations between the Cold War-era allies have improved in recent months, with the North's leader Kim Jong-un making three trips to China this year alone. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Pyongyang in April.
Why is Xi himself not attending the celebrations?
Singapore's Strait Times newspaper had reported last month that Xi would attend the anniversary. But Li's attendance, instead of Xi, may suggest China wants Kim to make more efforts to resolve international tensions before a Presidential visit.
Trump believes China is using N-Korea in US-China trade war
Kim pledged towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during his meet with US President Donald Trump in June. Those efforts stalled several weeks ago and Trump ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel a planned trip to Pyongyang in August. Trump suggested China is using N-Korea in the US-China trade war by encouraging Kim to take a tough stance on denuclearization.
China calls Trump's accusations absurd
China is North Korea's sole major ally and the main transit country for any goods entering the North. Trump said last month that China was no longer being as tough as it could be on N-Korea. China rejected Trump's accusations as irresponsible and absurd logic.