China hosts surprise visit by Kim Jong Un amid US tensions

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week made his fourth visit to China, arriving in the country for a thre...

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 8:39 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 8:39 AM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week made his fourth visit to China, arriving in the country for a three-day stay at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, according to state media.

Kim's visit -- which coincides with the young leader's birthday -- comes as US and Chinese negotiators are trying to hash out the ongoing trade war between those two nations, one that is already starting to bite in China.

Asia

Beijing

China

Continents and regions

East Asia

Kim Jong Un

North Korea

Political Figures - Intl

South Korea

Armed forces

Kim Yong Chol

Military

Misc people

Ri Sol Ju

US-North Korea summit

Donald Trump

Political Figures - US

Pyongyang

Xi Jinping

International relations

International relations and national security

North Korea nuclear development

North America

The Americas

United States

Business, economy and trade

International trade

Trade and development

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

State departments and diplomatic services

Politics

US federal government

White House

In a report Tuesday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim left Pyongyang Monday afternoon with his wife Ri Sol Ju. He was also accompanied by key diplomats, KCNA added, including Kim Yong Chol, who has overseen negotiations with the US and other foreign countries.

"He was warmly seen off by leading officials of the Party, government and armed forces organs at the railway station," the news agency said.

Though traffic was blocked off in Beijing in anticipation of Kim's arrival, police in the Chinese capital appeared to be much less strict compared to the North Korean leader's three previous visits to the country in 2018.

Curious onlookers were allowed to stand on both sides of the road behind a police line as Kim's motorcade came out from the station and drove onto the Chang'an Avenue, a main street across the center of the city from east to west.

Those staying in hotel rooms on Chang'an could watch from their rooms, something not allowed during Kim's previous trips to the city.

At a regular press briefing Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang would not comment on the purpose or timing of Kim's visit, saying only that "what we should focus on is that China and (North Korea) are making joint efforts to uphold peace and stability on the Korean peninsula" and calling the two countries "friendly, close neighbors."

When asked if the visit was related to a potential summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump, Lu said, "it is always important for the two sides to maintain contact and we always support their dialog to achieve positive outcomes.

"As to whether Kim will visit other places other arrangements we will release information in due course," he added.

Trade war timing

Relations between China and the US have worsened considerably since the Singapore summit between Kim and Trump, amid a deepening -- though temporarily paused -- trade war.

Harry J. Kazianis, an analyst with the Washington-based Center for the National Interest, said observers "should not be surprised Kim Jong Un has traveled to China to for a summit with Xi Jinping."

"Kim is eager to remind the Trump Administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer," Kazianis said. "China could easily turn Trump's 'maximum pressure' strategy into nothing more than a memory as almost all North Korea's external trade flows through China in some capacity."

He added that the timing from China's perspective "could not be any better," as it comes amid the trade talks with the US and "shows Beijing clearly has a North Korea card to play if it sees fit."

However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking to CNBC Monday, said he felt the two matters were unrelated.

"The Chinese have been very clear to us that these are separate issues," Pompeo said. "Their behavior has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that. China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability; I expect they will continue to do so."

Lu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Tuesday that Beijing does "not think we need any other techniques to help the US get our message (on trade)."

"We believe the US is very clear about China's position," he said.

Global Times, a nationalist state-run Chinese tabloid, cited an unnamed expert as saying "Kim still believes China can help him make breakthroughs in internal and diplomatic situations."

The North Korean leader "needs a breakthrough on the deadlock for improving ties with the US, and he believes China is the key," the Chinese expert said.

Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, told CNN it was a "rational strategy for Kim Jong Un to play strategic balance between the two big powers in this region: China and the United States."

"This would help create the largest breathing space for North Korea and give Kim the best chance for achieving his goal of keeping nuclear weapons and growing the economy simultaneously," he said.

Zhao added that Kim may be keen to shore up support from China ahead of a prospective second meeting with the US President.

"A stronger tie with Beijing can help North Korea put pressure on Washington and help Kim secure favorable results in upcoming negotiations with Trump," he said.

Key visits

According to South Korean media, the North Korean leader's heavily-armored train crossed the border between North Korea and China late on Monday night local time.

The trip is Kim's fourth trip to China. The first, in March 2018, kicked off a flurry of international diplomacy by the young North Korean leader last year which culminated in twin summits with South Korea and the US.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it hoped "high-level exchanges between North Korea and China including Kim Jong Un's summit with Xi Jinping will contribute to achieving the complete denuclearization and settlement of peace on the Korean peninsula."

China remains North Korea's closest ally, and most important trading partner. Kim's last visit to the country came days after he met Trump in Singapore in June.

Talks are currently under way for a second summit between Kim and Trump, something which may be a key item of discussion between the North Korean and Chinese leaders in Beijing this week.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
We continue to monitor a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be in heavy rainfall two locations across the southeast over the course of the weekend, and flooding rainfall could be in tow as well. Things are looking better for Father’s Day itself, thankfully.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather