During the visit, Kim Jong-un assured his Chinese counterpart he was committed to giving up his nuclear weapons, Xinhua reported, but with conditions.
“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim Jong-un was reported saying.
According to observers, North Korea’s conditions include the removal of a US nuclear guarantee for South Korea.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency called the visit “a milestone” in improving bilateral ties.
Kim Jong-un’s arrival and departure were shrouded in secrecy. China said the visit was “unofficial” – so there was no announcement of it in advance, prompting speculation about who was on the train when it was spotted arriving.
Because of the unofficial status of the visit, some of the normal protocols for foreign visits were not observed. For example no North Korean country flags were hung around the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.
Relations between North Korea and China, historically strong, had been deteriorating, with China backing US moves to tighten international sanctions in response to the North’s growing nuclear threat.
China has traditionally been protective of North Korea, but has sharply criticized its nuclear tests and escalating rhetoric.
Earlier this year, China clamped down on its purchase of coal from North Korea and on seafood and iron trade across the border.
Coupled with the textile trade ban, Pyongyang has lost several of its scant sources of foreign currency income.
China has been under public pressure to take action from President Donald Trump, who has both applauded and denounced Chinese policy at different times.
President Trump has also been involved in a direct war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, labeling him a “rocket man” on “a suicide mission”. He warned that he would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend the US or its allies.
Kim Jong-un, in turn, has called Donald Trump “deranged” and a “dotard”, and said the US president’s comments have convinced him he is right to seek a nuclear deterrent, and has even accused President Trump of declaring war.
At a news briefing on September 28, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: “We are opposed to any war on the Korean peninsula.”
“Sanctions and the promoting of talks are both the requirements of the UN Security Council. We should not overemphasize one aspect while ignoring the other.”
North Korea has accused China, its only international ally, of giving in to American demands.
Last week, China announced a ban on coal imports during 2017, in response to North Korea’s continuing ballistic missile tests.
The Pyongyang statement did not name China, but referred to a “neighboring country” which “often claims” to be friendly.
“This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the US,” the state-run KCNA news agency said.
In a direct reference to the ban on imports, the Pyongyang statement said China had “taken inhumane steps such as totally blocking foreign trade”, which would help its enemies “to bring down the social system” in North Korea.
North Korea relies on the coal trade with China for cash income.
Although China backs North Korea, alone among the international community, it has been a critic of its nuclear program, and has backed UN sanctions against it.
China’s ban on coal imports came a week after North Korea tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
The following day, Chinese media reported that a coal shipment from North Korea worth $1 million had been stopped at Wenzhou port, on China’s eastern coast, before the ban was officially announced a few days later.
Image source Getty Images
North Korea claims to have advanced nuclear capabilities that have never been verified. The country said it created a nuclear weapon in just a few years without any external aid.
If North Korea successfully created a fully functional inter-continental ballistic missile, it could conceivably threaten the US – about 5,500 miles away – as well as closer neighbors.
Howver, the government remains defiant in the face of international pressure.
“It is utterly childish to think that [North Korea] would not manufacture nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic rockets if a few [pennies] of money is cut off,” it said in its statement.
The words “dancing to the tune of the US” may refer to President Donald Trump’s remarks, before taking office, that China should bring North Korea “under control”.
Donald Trump said in an interview with Fox and Friends on January 4: “China has… total control over North Korea.
“And China should solve that problem. And if they don’t solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult for China.”
The rebuke of its only ally is the second verbal attack on another nation by North Korea on the same day.
Earlier, the secretive country appeared to blame Malaysia for the death of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, and said the country was attempting to politicize the return of his body.
Kim Jong-nam died after being poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport in an apparent planned attack.
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