Kim Meets Xi – North Korea Is Committed To Denuclearization … But There’s A Catch

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Mar 28 2018
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After two days of speculations, China finally put to rest rumours on social media about the VVIP from North Korea visiting Beijing. There could only be one guy qualified to travel in a heavily armoured green train – Kim Jong Un. But by the time China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met President Xi Jinping, the visit was already over.


For security purpose, neither China nor North Korea acknowledged the visit while Mr. Kim was in the capital, for fear of possible assassination. Even the U.S. was in the dark about the real identity of the visiting North Korean official. The only signs in the capital of China were the extraordinary heavy security, unusual road blocks and a large motorcade.


Accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and senior advisers, the trip was Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011. Interestingly, his father’s – Kim Jong Il – visit also came roughly 6 years after he took power, when he met then-President Jiang Zemin in China in 2000. Like Mr. Kim, his father and grandfather Kim II Sung also used similar trains for foreign trips.

North Korea Kim Jong-un and wife Ri Sol Ju Meets China President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan

The historical visit by Kim Jong Un to China appears to be carefully designed to send important messages, before the coming summits with South Korea and the United States. North Korea reported that Kim’s visit was at the invitation of Chinese President Xi, suggesting that both nations are still the best allies in the region, despite reports that say otherwise.


Although China described the trip as an unofficial visit, it nevertheless published photographs of Mr. Kim with Mr. Xi and the two leaders’ wives, and of their tour of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This shows that Beijing recognizes the legitimacy of the North Korean leader, the same way Beijing had welcomed President Donald Trump and his wife.


If China was indeed offended by defiant Kim’s nuclear testing, he’s definitely forgiven now, when President Xi said – “This is a strategic choice and the only right choice both sides have made based on history and reality, the international and regional structure and the general situation of China-North Korea ties. This should not and will not change because of any single event at a particular time.”

North Korea Kim Jong Un Visit China - Green Train

North Korea Kim Jong Un Visit China - Motorcade

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has reported that President Xi had accepted an invitation from 34-year-old Kim to visit North Korea, a sign of improving ties between China and North Korea. More importantly, here’s the message to the U.S. and the world – North Korea is not alone and can count on big brother China for protection and guidance.


While the visit suggested that Mr. Kim values or needs China’s blessing, and even advice, President Xi’s acceptance to visit the pariah kingdom also sends a message that only China can ultimately contain and influence the situation in the Korea Peninsula. At a banquet, Mr. Kim praised North Korea’s friendship with China, saying he wanted to “continue the traditional” ties.


Any issues between China and North Korea are considered like family affairs, which could easily be fixed. In what looks like a huge carrot for President Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un has pledged to President Xi Jinping that he will follow through the wishes of his father and grandfather and denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s New Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

It was a strategic move by both leaders – that as peacekeeper, Xi has won a pledge from the North Korean leader to denuclearization while Kim has secured the support from the Chinese leader. Kim needs China behind his back as bargaining chip when he meets with South Korea and United States. Xi, meanwhile, can show to Trump that China can deliver denuclearization.


However, there’s a catch to the denuclearization solution. It won’t be as easy as a walk in the park. Mr. Kim said – “If South Korea and the United States respond with good will to our efforts and create an atmosphere of peace and stability, and take phased, synchronized measures to achieve peace, the issue of the denuclearization of the peninsula can reach resolution.”


So the Rocket Man Kim isn’t going to surrender his nuclear arsenal overnight without conditions or concessions. What type of concessions are Trump willing to offer in exchange for the theoretical dismantling of its entire nuclear program? Chances are both Xi and Kim have compared notes and agreed on the deliverables from both South Korea and United States.

North Korea Kim Jong-un Meets China President Xi Jinping

Even if Kim and Trump could agree to a deal, the steps towards denuclearization would take months at best and years at worst before the actual work of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons could be carried out. Of course, there’s no way to tell if Kim will hide some of his toys for the rainy days. A total elimination of nuclear weapons is definitely impossible.


There’re so many solutions and stages to the denuclearization plan, depending on which angle one looks at it. North Korea could agree to halt their present programs, both missile and nuclear development, but with a price-tag. Kim could also present alternative solutions at different price-tags, not to mention achievable only at phases which could take years.


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