The Korea Herald

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China’s vice foreign minister visits N. Korea

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : Jan. 26, 2024 - 15:07

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This photo, carried by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on Friday, shows Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong (third from right) and his delegation of Chinese diplomats as they visit Pyongyang. This photo, carried by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on Friday, shows Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong (third from right) and his delegation of Chinese diplomats as they visit Pyongyang.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday, marking the first high-level exchanges of the year as both countries commemorate the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties.

North Korea's state-run media on Friday reported the arrival of the delegation of the Chinese Foreign Ministry led by Sun via the city of Sinuiju, the capital of North Pyongan Province, but did not share any further details.

The meeting notably followed a one-month interval since the meeting between North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong-ho and Sun in Beijing in mid-December.

"The visit has been presumed to be an extension of the diplomatic dialogue between China and North Korea, which took place in Beijing a month ago," said Kim In-ae, the Unification Ministry's deputy spokesperson, during a regular briefing.

"We anticipate discussions will be held, given that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between North Korea and China."

Kim said the ministry recognizes the necessity of closely monitoring the situation.

In December, Pak and Sun concurred on leveraging the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea to enhance the friendly and cooperative ties between the two countries, according to China's Foreign Ministry. Additionally, both officials committed to reinforcing strategic communication and coordination.

The government-funded Korea Institute for National Unification also emphasized the importance of monitoring the upcoming 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Beijing and Pyongyang, slated for October 6, in its annual forecast report for 2024 released in December.

The report highlighted that the crucial factor lies in whether Beijing and Pyongyang will continue with active exchanges this year, given that their current ties appear to be contracting in comparison to the close alignment between North Korea and Russia.

North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui traveled to Moscow in mid-January, where she met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There has been widespread anticipation that Putin will make a trip to Pyongyang following the Russian presidential election set for March.

"How China and North Korea choose to celebrate the anniversary will serve as an indicator of the trajectory of bilateral ties in 2024," Hong Min, a senior researcher at the KINU, said in the report.

"What is noteworthy is whether summit diplomacy unfolds, including Kim Jong-un's visit to China and President Xi Jinping's trip to North Korea, coinciding with the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, just one month before the US election."