Kim Jong Un Visiting China for Third Time Since March
Posted June 18, 2018 11:25 p.m. EDT
BEIJING — North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, arrived in China on Tuesday to begin a two-day visit, his third such trip since March.
Kim’s trip comes one week after his landmark summit meeting in Singapore with President Donald Trump.
Xinhua, China’s official news agency, announced the visit Tuesday amid reports that a special flight of Air Koryo, the North Korean state-run airline, was expected to land in Beijing. Kim’s previous trips to China were not announced until after they were over.
Kim’s visit comes as a trade war between the United States and China is intensifying, giving him an opening to play one power against the other — a tactic he appears to be using as the United States presses him to destroy his nuclear arsenal.
“The visit is taking place against the backdrop of the upcoming full-blown trade war,” said Cheng Xiaohe, a Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing.
On his first visit to China, in March, Kim arrived to Beijing aboard an armored train, and he spent two days in the capital for talks with President Xi Jinping. In May, Kim visited the port city of Dalian, also spending time with Xi.
In recent weeks, Kim has seemingly reversed years of North Korean foreign policy. Last week he met with Trump in Singapore, the first time a leader of North Korea and a sitting American president have held talks.
Now, Kim finds himself in what analysts see as an enviable position, with leverage over the region’s two great rivals.
In their joint declaration after meeting in Singapore, Trump and Kim pledged to move ahead with the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But the wording of the agreement has been widely criticized as vague, with no clear timelines.
The Americans insist that sanctions will remain in place until the North completely dismantles its weapons program. But China has suggested that the Singapore meeting alone was a goodwill measure that should prompt the easing of sanctions.