Archive for ‘Kim Jong-un’

23/06/2019

Xi Jinping’s state visit to North Korea aims for ‘new impetus’ in ties

  • Stalled denuclearisation talks also expected to be on the agenda when Chinese president meets Kim Jong-un this week
  • Analysts say Korean peninsula has become intense diplomatic battleground between Beijing and Washington
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) attends a welcome ceremony in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping in January. Xi will begin a visit to Pyongyang on Thursday. Photo: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) attends a welcome ceremony in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping in January. Xi will begin a visit to Pyongyang on Thursday. Photo: AP
Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to 
North Korea

will be a state visit – a higher status than the last trip to the hermit kingdom by a Chinese president, highlighting the close bilateral ties between Beijing and Pyongyang.

Xi’s two-day trip, which 
begins on Thursday

, is the first by a Chinese president to North Korea in 14 years and comes just a week before he is due to meet US President Donald Trump for talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan.

“Leaders of the two countries will review the development of the bilateral relationship and carry out an in-depth exchange of opinions on the development of Sino-North Korean relations in the new era, and chart the future course of development,” state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, went to North Korea in October 2005 on a three-day trip described as an “official goodwill” visit.
Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Xi’s visit aimed to “inject new impetus” into relations in the year the two countries marked the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties, and to give stalled denuclearisation talks a much needed push.
“Regarding the progress on denuclearisation, as I said, the result of the Hanoi leaders’ meeting in February was indeed a little unexpected. But after that, everyone actually looks forward to the resumption of dialogue in a good direction,” Lu said, referring to the failed talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the Vietnamese capital four months ago.

Trump hinted at the possibility of another meeting with Kim after receiving what he called “a beautiful letter” from the North Korean leader last week. On Tuesday, South Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, Lee Do-hoon, said the US had been in contact with the North.

Life in North Korea the ‘admiration and envy’ of others, state media says

Washington will also send US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun to South Korea next week, days after Xi’s visit to Pyongyang, to fully align its position on North Korea with its ally.

Meanwhile, Trump confirmed he would meet Xi for talks in Osaka next week, saying in a tweet on Tuesday they had “a very good telephone conversation” and would hold “an extended meeting” at the G20 summit, where they are

expected to try to cool tensions

over an almost year-long trade war.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting.

Analysts said the Korean peninsula had become an intense diplomatic battleground between Beijing and Washington.
Cha Du-hyeogn, a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said China and the US were competing for influence over the peninsula.
“The US and China are seeking a greater sphere of influence in the region. After the Singapore summit between Trump and Kim last year, the US and North Korea are the only key players on peninsula matters. China may want to restore its influence and become a major player,” Cha said.
“But China is less likely to have a so-called strategic competition with the US – that is to say, it won’t challenge the US-led sanctions regime and its goal in achieving North Korea’s denuclearisation. In fact, it is likely to persuade Kim to come to the negotiating table for complete denuclearisation.”
Chinese tourists flood North Korea as Beijing remains Pyongyang’s key ally

Pyongyang has demanded the lifting of sanctions imposed on the regime following its nuclear and missile tests, while Beijing has said the livelihoods of North Koreans should not be affected. But Washington insists full sanctions should remain in place.

The US has also voiced scepticism about Chinese compliance with the sanctions. At a security summit in Singapore earlier this month, US acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan – who on Wednesday stepped down from his role 

amid domestic abuse claims

– presented his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe with photographs and satellite images of North Korean ships transferring oil near China’s coast.

Analysts said Xi would seek to use the visit to boost China’s diplomatic leverage on the North Korean nuclear front, strengthening its hand in dealing with the US.
Exports from North Korea to China, which account for the bulk of its trade, plunged 87 per cent last year from 2017, and the country has faced other economic problems at a time when Kim has vowed to deliver on the economy.
A diplomatic source said China was expected to offer a large amount of humanitarian assistance, such as food and fertiliser, to North Korea, which could weaken the impact of sanctions.

China’s goal of denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula is unwavering and will not changeLu Chao, North Korean affairs expert at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences

Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Tuesday said via its social media account that Xi would discuss economic and trade cooperation with Kim during the visit.

Quoting Zheng Jiyong, director of the Centre for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, the newspaper said Pyongyang had taken steps to reform its economy and introduced China’s industrial manufacturing blueprint.

In September, Beijing proposed building a rail link from the city of Dandong, in China’s northeastern Liaoning province, to Pyongyang and then on to Seoul and Busan in the South, as well as a new road between Dandong and Pyongyang through Sinuiju.

Lu Chao, a North Korean affairs expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said large-scale economic cooperation between China and North Korea was unlikely because of the sanctions, but smaller moves were possible.

Chinese tourists flood North Korea as Beijing remains Pyongyang’s key ally

“For example, China may export daily necessities to North Korea. And if it’s needed, China is very likely to provide [food] assistance to North Korea,” Lu said. “I believe the UN sanctions on North Korea should change, because it has shown a more substantive approach to [achieving] denuclearisation.”

But analysts said Beijing remained firm on the need for Pyongyang to honour its pledges so that denuclearisation could be achieved.

“China’s goal of denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula is unwavering and will not change … China supports [North Korea] and the US continuing to hold talks,” Lu said.

Beijing also had an important part to play in the peace process, according to Boo Seung-chan, an adjunct professor at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.

“China can have a positive role as a mediator to facilitate the peace process on the Korean peninsula,” Boo said.

Source: SCMP

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19/06/2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping gives North Korean leader Kim Jong-un his full support

  • ‘Traditional friendship’ between two nations will continue whatever the future brings, Xi says ahead of two-day trip to Pyongyang
  • Visit comes amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington, and stalled negotiations on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula
Chinese President Xi Jinping says China will continue to “firmly support” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping says China will continue to “firmly support” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged his full support for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and promised to play an active role in efforts to bring peace and stability to the region, a day ahead of his 
first ever state visit

to the reclusive nation.

Xi’s comments, in an editorial published by North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmunon Wednesday, come as China remains locked in a trade and technology war with the United States, and after a second summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February failed to achieve any progress on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“No matter how the international situation changes”, China would “firmly support Chairman Kim Jong-un to lead the North Korean party and people to implement the new strategic line”, the article said.
As well as expressing the two sides’ desire to strengthen “strategic communication and exchanges”, Xi said Beijing would continue to support Pyongyang in its negotiations with other countries.
Xi Jinping (left) says China will “contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region”. Photo: EPA-EFE
Xi Jinping (left) says China will “contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region”. Photo: EPA-EFE

“We will actively contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region by strengthening communication and coordination with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he said, referring to the country by its official name.

China would also engage with other stakeholders “by jointly expediting progress on dialogue and negotiations on the issues of the Korean peninsula”, he said.

Xi’s state visit to North Korea aims for ‘new impetus’ in ties

Speaking ahead of Xi’s two-day trip to Pyongyang, which starts on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday that the outcome of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi was “a little unexpected” and that China was encouraging both sides to continue their dialogue.

Trump said last week that he had received a “

beautiful letter

” from Kim that had “reset” the tone between the two countries. In May, he said Pyongyang was “not ready to negotiate”.

One of the major stumbling blocks in the negotiation process has been the United Nations sanctions. Pyongyang has stipulated that they should be lifted as a precondition of the denuclearisation process while Washington has insisted they should remain in place until North Korea provides clear evidence the process is under way.

China, meanwhile, has been accused of providing large amounts of humanitarian aid to its neighbour to help offset the impact of the sanctions.

Xi said China would continue to support North Korea in raising “legitimate concerns through dialogue”.

“No matter how the wind and clouds of the international situation change, our two parties and two peoples inherit and carry forward the traditional friendship between China and the DPRK,” he said.

Zhao Tong, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy, said that while the main aim of Xi’s visit was to reaffirm ties, its timing, amid the US-China dispute, was designed to show Beijing still had a role to play in the negotiations.

“As China-US strategic rivalry grows, China wants to maintain its geopolitical influence on the Korean peninsula. By demonstrating its unique relations with the DPRK at a time when neither Washington nor Seoul is able to resume high-level engagements with Pyongyang, Beijing is signalling to Washington that it is still a helpful, constructive and indispensable partner to resolve important regional problems,” he said.

Xi’s visit to North Korea will be the first by a Chinese leader since Hu Jintao in 2005.

Source: SCMP

09/04/2019

China’s bridge to North Korea opens 3 years after it was built – but why now?

  • Buses from the North make return trip to China on Monday, according to South Korean media
  • Opening of Jian-Manpo border crossing had been delayed during heightened tension over sanctions on the North
The bridge crosses the Yalu River on the border between China and North Korea. Photo: Kyodo
The bridge crosses the Yalu River on the border between China and North Korea. Photo: Kyodo
China and North Korea have finally opened a border bridge built between the two countries in 2016, in a potential boost to the North’s economy as Beijing tries to balance its concerns about its neighbour against ongoing international pressure for it to denuclearise.
A border checkpoint and bridge connecting the Chinese city of Jian with North Korea’s Manpo were open on Monday, following three years of delays since they were built.

Four buses crossed the border from North Korea in the morning and returned to the hermit kingdom about an hour later carrying about 120 people, who included tourists, according to South Korean media. It was not known whether the people travelled from North Korea or boarded the buses in China.

The bridge had remained closed on its completion in 2016, with Beijing taking a cautious approach at a time when it faced international scrutiny of whether it was fully implementing UN Security Council sanctions on the North.

to enforce the sanctions after a UN committee accused it and South Korea of being reluctant to enforce a ban on coal exports from the North.

But there has been a change in the status of the Jian-Manpo border crossing – built near to where Kim’s father, the former leader Kim Jong-il, was reported to have crossed the border in 2010 in a rare trip outside his country.

Kim’s second summit with Trump in February collapsed against a backdrop of continued economic struggles for North Korea. Beijing is wary of instability around the North Korean regime posing a threat to the security of China’s northeast, fearing an influx of refugees into one of its poorest regions.

North Korea’s trade has suffered to the extent that the Korea Development Institute said in February it had almost collapsed.

The North’s exports to China – which accounts for the bulk of its trade – plunged 87 per cent year-on-year in 2018, according to data compiled by South Korea’s Korea

International Trade Association, while there have been myriad other economic problems at a time when Kim has vowed to deliver on the economy.

In April last year, Kim announced that Pyongyang was moving away from its twin-track “byungjin” policy of developing nuclear weapons and the economy simultaneously to focus exclusively on rebuilding the economy.

Boo Seung-chan, adjunct professor at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the bridge’s primary use would be to boost tourism in North Korea, which is not restricted by the UN sanctions.

“Tourism is the only sector left for the North Koreans to earn foreign revenue,” Boo said. “Besides, China can only offer its financial help through the tourism sector as it does not wish to violate UN sanctions.

“China’s Korean peninsula policy is to maintain the stability of the region. It may also be drawing a road map for when sanctions may be lifted, finding its means to accelerate its economic engagement to increase its sphere of influence.”

Source: SCMP

26/02/2019

Trump: US and China ‘very very close’ on deal

US President Donald Trump addresses US governors at the White HouseImage copyrightAFP

President Donald Trump has said that the US and China are “very very close” to signing a trade agreement, potentially ending the long-running feud between the two countries.

Mr Trump told US governors on Monday that both nations “are going to have a signing summit”.

“Hopefully, we can get that completed. But we’re getting very, very close,” he said.

It follows a decision to delay imposing further trade tariffs on Chinese goods.

At the weekend, Mr Trump said both sides had made “substantial progress” in trade talks following a summit in Washington last week.

The rise in import duties on Chinese goods from 10% to 25% was due to come into effect on 1 March.

Instead, Mr Trump said the US is now planning a summit with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping at the US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

US shares rose on the decision to delay tariffs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 0.23% higher at 26,091.9.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished trading in positive territory.

As he prepared to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, Mr Trump also tweeted that a China trade deal was in “advanced stages”.

Mr Trump’s decision to delay tariff increases on $200bn (£153bn) worth of Chinese goods was seen as a sign that the two sides were moving ahead in settling their damaging trade war.

Last week, Mr Trump noted progress in the latest round of negotiations in Washington, including an agreement on currency manipulation, though no details were disclosed.

Sources told CNBC on Friday that China had committed to buying up to $1.2 trillion in US goods, but there had been no progress on the intellectual property issues.

Donald Trump and China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval OfficeImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPresident Trump met China’s Vice Premier Liu He on Friday

Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, said: “We had anticipated such a delay and believe a handshake agreement in which China will promise to import more agricultural products, work towards a stable currency and reinforce intellectual property rights protection will be achieved in the coming weeks.

“However, we don’t foresee a significant rollback of existing tariffs, and see underlying tensions regarding China’s strategic ambitions, its industrial policy, technological transfers and ‘verification and enforcement’ mechanisms remaining in place.”

What has happened in the trade war so far?

Mr Trump initiated the trade war over complaints of unfair Chinese trading practices.

That included accusing China of stealing intellectual property from American firms, forcing them to transfer technology to China.

The US has imposed tariffs on $250bn worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110bn of US products.

Mr Trump has also threatened further tariffs on an additional $267bn worth of Chinese products – which would see virtually all of Chinese imports into the US become subject to duties.

US and China's tariffs against each other

The trade dispute has unnerved financial markets, risks raising costs for American companies and is adding pressure to a Chinese economy that is already showing signs of strain.

It has also stoked fears about the impact on the global economy.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund warned the trade war between the US and China risked making the world a “poorer and more dangerous place”.

Source: The BBC

24/02/2019

North Korea’s Kim on his way by train to summit with Trump in Vietnam

SEOUL/HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his way across China by train on Sunday, media reported, bound for a high-stakes second nuclear summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi.

Few details of Kim’s trip have been announced but he left Pyongyang by train on Saturday afternoon for the Feb. 27-28 summit accompanied by senior North Korean officials as well as his influential sister, North Korea’s state media reported.

Trump and Kim will meet in Hanoi eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, where they pledged to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

With little progress since then, the two leaders are expected to focus on what elements of North Korea’s nuclear programme it might begin to give up, in exchange for U.S. concessions.

In rare, revealing coverage of Kim’s travel, while it is still going on, the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper featured photographs of him getting a red-carpet send-off in Pyongyang and waving from a train carriage door while holding a cigarette.

 

He was accompanied by top officials also involved in the Singapore summit, including Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief and Kim’s top envoy in negotiations with the United States, as well as senior party aide Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and defence chief No Kwang Chol.

The North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who acted as a close aide in Singapore, is again part of the delegation, the North’s KCNA news agency reported. It made no mention of his wife, Ri Sol Ju.

The extensive coverage in the secretive North’s official media was a contrast to the limited reporting that has traditionally prevailed during his foreign trips.

Other senior officials, such as his de facto chief of staff Kim Chang Son and Kim Hyok Chol, negotiations counterpart to U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun, were already in Hanoi to prepare for the summit.

With scant progress since the June summit, the two leaders are likely to try to build on their personal connection to push things forward in Hanoi, even if only incrementally, analysts said.

Both sides are under pressure to forge more specific agreements than were reached in Singapore, which critics, especially in the United States, said lacked detail.

 

“They will not make an agreement which breaks up the current flow of diplomacy. (President Trump) has mentioned that they’ll meet again; even if there is a low-level agreement, they will seek to keep things moving,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

LEARNING FROM VIETNAM

The Trump administration has pressed the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme, which, combined with its missile capabilities, poses a threat to the United States, before it can expect any concessions.

North Korea wants an easing of punishing U.S.-led sanctions, security guarantees and a formal end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Few details of summit arrangements have been released.

Some lamp posts on Hanoi’s tree-lined streets are decked with North Korean, U.S. and Vietnamese flags fluttering above a handshake design, and security has been stepped up at locations that could be the summit venue, or where the leaders might stay.

It could take Kim at least 2-1/2 days to travel to Vietnam by train.

Some carriages of a green train were spotted at Beijing’s station on Sunday, but it was not confirmed it was Kim’s.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim’s train had passed through a station in China’s port city of Tianjin, southeast of Beijing, at around 1 p.m. (0500 GMT).

China has given no details of his trip. Its foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two top North Korean officials who were not in Singapore but will be in Hanoi are Kim Phyong Hae and O Su Yong, vice chairmen of the party’s Central Committee, respectively in charge of personnel management and industrial affairs, KCNA reported.

O is a former minister of electronics and vice minister of metals and machine building. He might try to learn about Vietnam’s development of manufacturing, analysts said.

Kim Jong Un may tour some economic facilities while in Vietnam.

Vietnam, like North Korea, fought a war against the United States and keeps tight control over its people and economy. It has been touted as a model for North Korea’s development.

Vietnamese media reported that a North Korean cargo plane arrived on Sunday carrying personnel who appeared to be Kim’s security guards and state media workers. They were driven under police escort to a downtown hotel.

Source: Reuters

16/02/2019

As the clock ticks, there’s a path to a ‘win-win’ outcome in US-China trade talks

  • Ankit Panda writes that a meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping could result in a way out of the impasse, at least temporarily
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2019, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2019, 6:04pm

The usual cast of characters were back at the negotiating table, trying to find a way to stem another round of US tariff increases that were stayed in December after the Buenos Aires G20 meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were back in Beijing, where they again sat across the table from Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s lead trade negotiator. The US delegation also met Xi himself at the end of the talks on Friday.

Both nations said they had made progress to settle their disputes, but admitted there were still difficult issues to deal with. Negotiators will continue the talks in Washington next week.

The stakes are clear and the clock is ticking. The two sides need to arrive at an understanding by March 2, the day on which Trump has said he will move forward with an increase in tariffs.

At least that was the idea. In recent days, Trump has made multiple remarks that suggest the March deadline is anything but absolute. He has hinted he would be open to pushing it back if he sensed that a deal was around the corner. Reports have even suggested the White House is considering another 60-day extension of the tariff truce.

“They’re showing us tremendous respect,” Trump said of China’s attitude in the negotiations, adding that talks were “going along very well”. With Trump slated to travel to Asia at the end of the month for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, the prospect of a second meeting between him and Xi – right before the anticipated deadline – is very real. What’s slowly slipping through the cracks in this process is a sustainable and long-term agreement on structural reform in China, which is what’s been at the centre of the Trump administration’s trade grievances.

Already articulated US concerns cover a broad range of Chinese practices. The ideal short-term measures the American side would like to see include unconditional market access for US firms in China; a less insulated environment for state-owned enterprise decision making; greater regulatory transparency; and fairer legal protections for American businesses in China.

As with so many aspects of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, the US president’s personality is taking over the process, leaving his deputies who are doing the negotiating in a disadvantageous position. For China, the obvious answer then becomes not to discuss the nuances of what kinds of structural reform might be necessary with Lighthizer, but to simply get Xi in the room with Trump.

This mirrors the lesson that North Korea’s Kim has taken away over the course of nearly a year of negotiations with the US. Instead of expending any serious diplomatic capital in a detail oriented negotiation with the secretary of state or the president’s special representative, the key is to simply meet Trump and work out high-level arrangements mano a mano.

In this climate, we can’t expect a real resolution on the core issues. Everything from American misgivings about Beijing’s interventionist industrial policies that protect Chinese enterprises to broader structural shifts in the nature of the US-China economic relationship since the turn of the century are on the table today – and they’ll stay there.

Xi and Trump may well find a temporary way out of the impasse, giving global investors the runway necessary to avert the panic that would likely ensue if the US pushed ahead with a tariff increase on US$200 billion in Chinese goods. Even if China doesn’t quite give the United States a down payment on structural reforms, Xi can promise Trump that he will chip away at the trade deficit while leaving untouched the issues that a more detail oriented negotiator like Lighthizer might zero in on.

If there is a “win-win” outcome here, it would be for Trump and Xi to find an agreeable arrangement that would allow the US president to walk away looking tough to his base while leaving China’s core, long-term industrial policy trajectory unharmed. That would strip away any remaining negotiating leverage the US side might have within the trade war, and it’s not unlikely.

Source: SCMP

08/01/2019

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un visits China’s Xi Jinping

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju as they prepare to leave for China from Pyongyang, North Korea, 7 January 2019Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Kim is visiting China with his wife Ri Sol-ju, state media report

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Beijing for an unannounced visit, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr Kim will be in China until 10 January with his wife Ri Sol-ju, according to state media reports.

The visit comes amid reports that negotiations are under way for a second summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

The two met last June, the first such meeting for a sitting US president.

Speculation had grown on Monday that Mr Kim was possibly making his way to China after South Korea’s Yonhap news reported that a North Korean train had been seen crossing the border.

Dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked roads around the train station in the border town of Dandong.

Hotel guests in Dandong had also not been allowed to enter rooms that faced the border, with news outlet Kyodo calling this an “apparent move to prevent the train from being seen”.

A vehicle that is part of a motorcade that is believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes its way through central BeijingImage copyrightREUTERS

Both countries’ media confirmed the visit on Tuesday morning. Mr Kim’s distinctive green and yellow train arrived at a station in Beijing later in the day.

The train, the same one used during Mr Kim’s first visit to China, resembles the one used by his father Kim Jong-il during his visits to China and Russia in 2011.

A motorcade with heavy security was later seen driving through central Beijing.

A train believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, China January 8, 2019.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMr Kim travelled to Beijing on his distinctive personal train

Mr Kim’s visit, during which he is being accompanied by several leading North Korean officials, is his fourth to China in less than a year.

Tuesday is also reportedly Mr Kim’s 35th birthday, though his date of birth has never been confirmed by Pyongyang.

China is an important diplomatic ally for North Korea, and one of its main sources of trade and aid.

“[Mr] Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer,” Harry J Kazianis, director of defence studies at the Centre for the National Interest told Reuters.

Images of Xi Jinping with Kim Jong Un, are displayed at a newspaper stand in Beijing on March 28, 2018Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Kim’s first visit to China came in March last year

Mr Kim, unusually, did not meet Mr Xi for the first six years of his leadership of North Korea.

But last year, he visited China three times. None of the trips was announced in advance.

The BBC’s Laura Bicker in Seoul says two of the trips, which took place ahead of the historic summits with the South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and Mr Trump, were seen by some as a chance to co-ordinate strategy.

The latest three-day visit, our correspondent says, is likely to fuel speculation that a second US-North Korean summit will take place soon.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump said a location for another meeting between the two would be announced in the not-too-distant-future.

Mr Trump told reporters in Washington DC that “a good dialogue” was taking place with North Korea, but that sanctions on Pyongyang would remain in place.

In his annual new year’s speech last week, Mr Kim said he was committed to denuclearisation, but warned that he would change course if US sanctions remained.

Diplomatic progress between Mr Trump and Mr Kim has stalled since the Singapore summit. Both parties signed a pledge at the time to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, though it was never clear what this would entail.

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