GP Insights

GP Insights # 85, 22 June 2019

Xi visits North Korea
Sourina Bej

What happened? 
The Chinese President Xi Jinping visited North Korea during 20-21 June thereby becoming the first leader in 14 years after Hu Jintao to visit Pyongyang. The visit comes amid stalled talks with the United States over North Korea's nuclear programme on the one hand and the escalating trade war between China on the other. Acknowledging this, the North Korean mouthpiece said, "when serious and complicated changes are happening in international and regional situations the two leaders have agreed to promote close strategic communication" and develop their "common interests." 

As for China, Xi referred to the nuclear program and urged all sides to "stick to peace talks to make even greater contributions to peace, stability and prosperity in the region." (According to China's official Xinhua News Agency)

What is the background? 
At the current visit, Pyongyang was seen giving a grand welcome to Xi. In these 14 years, much had happened in the Korean peninsula. North Korea had carried out five nuclear tests and launched missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland. After a flurry of diplomacy in 2018 and early 2019, including three meetings between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in and two summits between Kim and US President Donald Trump, currently, talks are stalled between the US and North Korea.

The second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February had ended abruptly, with no agreement as the two were unable to overcome differences over the pace and scope of sanctions relief. Amid these developments, Xi's visit was full of political innuendos and expectations. 

What does it mean? 
Firstly, most have thought of Xi's visit as intended to become a signal to Trump of his influence with Kim, ahead of next week's G20 summit in Japan. In this, Pyongyang has also given a larger than life portrayal of his relations with China. Also, it has repeated it's call for Washington to adopt "a new method of calculation" for the negotiations. 

Second, as Hong Min, a senior researcher at the South's state-run Korea Institute for National Unification said Xi's visit might give Kim a 'political and diplomatic opening to resume talks with the US again'. However, what was striking from the visit was the lack of any major announcements. According to an official spokesperson, Xi and Kim reached "extensive major consensus" on the China-North Korea relationship, thereby drawing on the past rhetoric of a strong relationship. 

Thirdly, the visit had many people attending the march of Xi in Pyongyang with him receiving 21 gun salutes. However, the visit was shrouded with symbolism and this was important for both North Korea and China. For North Korea, it was to show the home audience about the necessity to keep the narrative of sanctions lifting and not failing out to US alive. North Korea had invested a lot in the US-North Korea summit amid the hopes of Korean unification. This would have been Kim's legacy had not been for the failed Hanoi summit. With Xi's visit once again, the talk of the future of crisis in the Korean Peninsula has returned.

For China, making no point (announcement) was the point. The two countries are engaged in separate disputes with President Trump — one over trade, the other over nuclear weapons.  

Hence at this juncture, showing solidarity and just merely standing with Kim in place of what Trump could have done has garnered both "political support and encouragement for the party, government and people." The trade war has exhausted the party and in particular Xi's image to being a tough negotiator always emerging a winner. With this image Xi would be seen sharing the stage with world leaders at the G20 summit. 

Sourina Bej is currently a Research Associate with ISSSP, NIAS. She can be reached at sourinabej92@gmail.com

December 2020 | GP Insights # 451
Brexit: The trade deal may not come through
November 2020 | GP Insights # 432
India and the US sign crucial defence agreements
October 2020 | GP Insights # 421
France: New bill to prevent Islamic Separatism
October 2020 | GP Insights # 420
The US: The First Presidential Debate
September 2020 | GP Insights # 419
South Asia: Finally, a SAARC meeting
September 2020 | GP Insights # 413
California: Wildfire continues to rage
September 2020 | GP Insights # 411
BREXIT: UK's new bill renews the tensions with the EU
August 2020 | GP Insights # 407
Japan: Shinzo Abe announces resignation
August 2020 | GP Insights # 403
Greenland: The ice sheet melts at a record rate
August 2020 | GP Insights # 402
Coup in Mali: Plunging further into chaos

August 2020 | GP Insights # 394
Vietnam: The second wave

July 2020 | GP Insights # 391
Global Nuclear Security progress has slowed
May 2020 | GP Insights # 346
Europe shows the way, but with a warning

April 2020 | GP Insights # 336
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | GP Insights # 332
The US accuses the WHO of being China-centric
April 2020 | GP Insights # 328
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | GP Insights # 325
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps
March 2020 | GP Insights # 311
US: $2.2 trillion to stimulate the economy
March 2020 | GP Insights # 304
CoronaVirus: The US-China blame game
March 2020 | GP Insights # 302
Afghanistan: 30 killed in two days

March 2020 | GP Insights # 299
China: Fall in numbers
March 2020 | GP Insights # 292
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban deal under stress
March 2020 | GP Insights # 287
Two Presidents in Afghanistan
March 2020 | GP Insights # 285
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan
March 2020 | GP Insights # 281
Coronavirus cases cross 100,000
March 2020 | GP Insights # 276
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | GP Insights # 272
Trump in India: Optics, Substance and Rhetoric
February 2020 | GP Insights # 269
US and Taliban sign the long-awaited peace deal
February 2020 | GP Insights # 268
Thailand: The Court dissolves the opposition party
February 2020 | GP Insights # 260
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed
February 2020 | GP Insights # 259
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | GP Insights # 258
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal

February 2020 | GP Insights # 254
General Election: Ireland turns Left, after decades

February 2020 | GP Insights # 253
Coronavirus: Seven Weeks After
February 2020 | GP Insights # 252
Israel: Violence in the post-Trump deal
February 2020 | GP Insights # 248
The US Senate acquits Donald Trump
February 2020 | GP Insights # 246
Trump's Middle East plan gains mixed responses
February 2020 | GP Insights # 245
New Delhi: Shooting in an anti-CAA rally

February 2020 | GP Insights # 243
Afghanistan: Continuing Violence
February 2020 | GP Insights # 242
Finally, the BREXIT: The “UK Dream” comes true
February 2020 | GP Insights # 240
UK and EU on 5G and Huawei

February 2020 | GP Insights # 238
Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan
January 2020 | GP Insights # 237
Libya: Peace Summit in Berlin
January 2020 | GP Insights # 236
Lebanon: A new government but crisis is worsening

January 2020 | GP Insights # 232
Lebanon: A new cabinet assisted by the Hezbollah

January 2020 | GP Insights # 229
World Economic Forum: The 50th meeting at Davos
January 2020 | GP Insights # 225
Afghanistan: Taliban's Proposal to Reduce Violence
January 2020 | GP Insights # 222
Tehran: Protests follow the Airplane shooting
January 2020 | GP Insights # 219
Taiwan: DPP returns to power with a large mandate
January 2020 | GP Insights # 217
Russia: Putin's New Democratic experiment
January 2020 | GP Insights # 216
Myanmar welcomes Xi Jinping

January 2020 | GP Insights # 210
6G Technology: China is an Early Bird
December 2019 | GP Insights # 204
The US plan against Mexican Cartels

December 2019 | GP Insights # 202
Greta Thunberg is TIME's person of the year
December 2019 | GP Insights # 201
UK: Boris Johnson wins big, gets the BREXIT mandate
December 2019 | GP Insights # 200
ICJ: Suu Kyi defends the indefensible

December 2019 | GP Insights # 199
Spain: COP 25 begins in Madrid
December 2019 | GP Insights # 198
Iran: The protests continue
December 2019 | GP Insights # 197
NATO at 70: Brain Dead and Jaws Dropped
November 2019 | GP Insights # 196
London attacks: A reality check on radicalisation

November 2019 | GP Insights # 195
Iran protests: Thousands arrested
November 2019 | GP Insights # 193
Russia Releases Ukrainian Vessels
November 2019 | GP Insights # 191
Mass Protests in Iran
November 2019 | GP Insights # 189
Protest in Georgia over constitutional reform
November 2019 | GP Insights # 188
Sri Lanka: Return of the Rajapaksas

November 2019 | GP Insights # 187
Hong Kong: Violence reaches a new high
November 2019 | GP Insights # 185
Brazil: Leaders meet for the 11th BRICS Summit
November 2019 | GP Insights # 184
Bolivia: Political crisis over elections

November 2019 | GP Insights # 183
US-China Tariff Rollback: Yes, sorry no…  
November 2019 | GP Insights # 181
India refuses to sign the RCEP 
November 2019 | GP Insights # 178
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue
November 2019 | GP Insights # 177
ISIS after Baghdadi
November 2019 | GP Insights # 176
UK Elections: A delayed Brexit; divided Parliament

October 2019 | GP Insights # 173
Brazil’s mysterious oil spill 
October 2019 | GP Insights # 170
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | GP Insights # 168
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia

October 2019 | GP Insights # 167
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
October 2019 | GP Insights # 161
UK: Boris Johnson announces a Brexit roadmap
October 2019 | GP Insights # 160
Iraq: The Protests Now

October 2019 | GP Insights # 158
China: Celebrating 70 years
September 2019 | GP Insights # 157
UK: Parliament uproar over Boris Johnson’s language
September 2019 | GP Insights # 156
US and Japan: A limited trade agreement

September 2019 | GP Insights # 154
The UN Climate Action Summit: No Action Plan yet
September 2019 | GP Insights # 151
Climate Change protests ahead of the UN Summit
September 2019 | GP Insights # 149
Afghanistan: Taliban’s deadly strikes
September 2019 | GP Insights # 148
Israel: No clear winners in the elections

September 2019 | GP Insights # 147
An Amazon in the East: The Forest Fires in Indonesia
September 2019 | GP Insights # 144
"Glory to Hong Kong": Protesters' New Anthem

September 2019 | GP Insights # 142
Suspension of the British Parliament
August 2019 | GP Insights # 140
Italy: Experiments with a new coalition

August 2019 | GP Insights # 139
Huawei vs Google: The Saga Continues
August 2019 | GP Insights # 136
G7 Summit: Cold responses and little outcomes

August 2019 | GP Insights # 133
Italy: Political turmoil as the PM resigns
August 2019 | GP Insights # 132
Brexit: No backing out on backstop deal

August 2019 | GP Insights # 130
Brazil: The fires in Amazon goes global
August 2019 | GP Insights # 128
Jammu and Kashmir: The UNSC meeting

August 2019 | GP Insights # 127
Israel: US Congresswomen's visit denied 
August 2019 | GP Insights # 121
North Korea: Cyber theft of  $ 2 billion
August 2019 | GP Insights # 120
Hong Kong: China issues a strong warning

August 2019 | GP Insights # 118
J&K: India revokes Kashmir’s special status
August 2019 | GP Insights # 116
US Withdraws from the INF Treaty

August 2019 | GP Insights # 115
The Netherlands ban Burqa
August 2019 | GP Insights # 113
Trump imposes new tariffs on China
July 2019 | GP Insights # 106
Pakistan Airspace Reopens after five months
July 2019 | GP Insights # 105
US excludes Turkey from the F-35 program
July 2019 | GP Insights # 103
US House blocks Trump's Saudi arms deal
July 2019 | GP Insights # 101
Myanmar: US-led  sanctions will not go far
July 2019 | GP Insights # 100
Iran to breach nuclear stockpile threshold

July 2019 | GP Insights # 96
Libya: Attack on Migration Centre kills 60

June 2019 | GP Insights # 93
G20 Summit 2019 in Japan: Early takeaways
June 2019 | GP Insights # 89
Hong Kong Protests: Expanding the Goals?
June 2019 | GP Insights # 87
Protests in Georgia
June 2019 | GP Insights # 84
Hong Kong: The Protests Escalates Further
June 2019 | GP Insights # 82
Nigeria: The Triple Suicide Bombing
June 2019 | GP Insights # 78
Xi's Visit to North Korea
June 2019 | GP Insights # 75
Sudan: African Union suspends membership

June 2019 | GP Insights # 73
The Gulf of Oman: Attack on Oil tankers
June 2019 | GP Insights # 72
Sudan: The Military orders crackdown
June 2019 | GP Insights # 70
Japan and Iran: Abe’s Peace Mission
June 2019 | GP Insights # 69
India: Two Days, Two Neighbors
June 2019 | GP Insights # 67
India's New Priority: BIMSTEC, not SAARC?

June 2019 | GP Insights # 66
China's First Orbital Sea Launch
June 2019 | GP Insights # 65
China and Russia: Xi Jinping's Moscow Visit
June 2019 | GP Insights # 63
Hong Kong: China's Game Plan

June 2019 | GP Insights # 62
India, US and the S-400: Threat of Sanctions
June 2019 | GP Insights # 61
Sudan: Clampdown on Protestors
June 2019 | GP Insights # 59
Trump's UK Visit

May 2019 | GP Insights # 48
Indonesia: Post-election violence
May 2019 | GP Insights # 44
1500 American troops to the Middle East
May 2019 | GP Insights # 36
US-China Trade Talks

May 2019 | GP Insights # 34
Sri Lanka Attacks: Deepening fault lines
May 2019 | GP Insights # 33
The Huawei Controversy in the UK
November 2018 | GP Insights # 188
Sri Lanka: Return of the Rajapaksas
Click here for old Short Notes