(Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping called for starting a “new chapter” with North Korea in a newspaper commentary published in Pyongyang ahead of the first visit by a Chinese leader in 14 years.
Xi’s state visit on Thursday and Friday to meet leader Kim Jong Un was expected to be a show of unity among the longtime allies who have both been the target of Trump administration fury. The Chinese president urged a peaceful solution in an editorial featured Wednesday in the newspaper for North Korea’s ruling party, the Rodong Sinmun.339231970
“For 70 years, we have been on the same boat and marched forward arduously throughout the rain and gusts,” Xi wrote, in a reference to China’s involvement in the 1950-53 Korean War. He said that China supported North Korea’s “right direction for politically solving the issue on the Korean Peninsula.”
Nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea ground to a halt after President Donald Trump abruptly ended a February summit in Hanoi with Kim, saying the North Korean leader demanded too much in terms of sanctions relief and offered up too little disarmament.
Referring to the North Korean leader as “Comrade Kim Jong Un,” Xi wrote: “I wish to use this visit to facilitate a China-North Korea cooperation relationship and open a new chapter based on the traditional China-North Korea friendship.”
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Xi added that despite how the global atmosphere might change, the two countries’ friendship wouldn’t, and “their people have walked through pain together.”
China provides a lifeline to North Korea’s paltry economy that is squeezed by international sanction to punish it for nuclear and missile tests that defied United Nation resolutions.
Xi and Kim have met four times previously. In their upcoming meeting, the two may discuss Trump administration demands that North Korea first dismantle its nuclear and missile arsenals before it can get sanctions relief. North Korea and China have backed disarmament steps being met by a reward, saying it’s the best way to build trust.
This editorial showed that China will support North Korea’s decision to choose a path of its own, according to Kim Dong-yub, a professor specializing in North Korea at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies. “The visit will provide a turning point for North Korea’s approach to many things,” Kim Dong-yub said.
Lee Sang-min, a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, told a briefing Wednesday that Chinese leaders have previously written commentaries for North Korean state papers and he declined to comment on the piece.
“We have positive expectations that this meeting will lead to an early resumption of denuclearization talks for the Korean Peninsula, as well as contributing to the everlasting peace in the region,” Lee said.
--With assistance from Dandan Li.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jon Herskovitz
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