Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kim Jong Il's Unofficial Visit to China

Workers Party of Korea General Secretary and concurrently National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il paid an unofficial visit to China from 3 to 7 May. Some China's international affairs experts said that Hu Jintao's five proposals on strengthening China-North Korea cooperation have set the basic tone for the development of China-North Korea relations in the future.
Viewing from the consensus reached by both sides on the Korean Peninsula's situation, the possibility of restarting the six-party talks has increased, but there are still variable factors on whether the talks can be resumed soon.

Five Proposals
During his stay in China, the North Korean leader put five proposals. They were:

First, is maintaining high-level contacts. Both sides' leaders should maintain close connections by conducting mutual visits, sending special envoys to each other's country, and delivering verbal messages to each other.

Second, is strengthening strategic communication. Both sides should, at any time and on a regular basis, conduct in-depth communication on the two countries' internal and foreign affairs as well as major issues, the international and regional situation, the experience in administering the party and the country, and other issues of mutual concern.

Third, is deepening economic and trade cooperation.
Fourth, is expanding humanistic exchanges.

Fifth, is strengthening coordination between both sides on international and regional issues so as to better safeguard regional peace and stability.

These five proposals have set the basic tone for the development of China-North Korea relations in the future. If these proposals can be implemented step by step through joint efforts, they will have important and positive influence on China-North Korea relations and enable the two countries to open up a new situation on the basis of inheriting their traditional friendship.

Strengthening Bilateral Cooperation
Specifically analyzing the five proposals, they consist of high-level political mutual visits and involve economic and trade cooperation that is conducive to the people's livelihood. In the meantime, these proposals also involve deepening cultural, education, youth, and other civilian exchanges.
Against the background of China-North Korea traditional friendship, promoting humanistic exchanges between the youths of the two countries bears important practical and historic significance.

Six-Party Talks Process
During Kim Jong Il's visit to China, both sides exchanged views on the situation in the Northeast Asian region and the six-party talks. Both sides are of the opinion that the relevant parties involved in the six-party talks should demonstrate sincerity and make positive efforts to push forward the six-party talks process. The North Korea side indicated that its stand on upholding the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization had not changed. The North Korea side is willing to work with all the relevant parties to create favorable conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks.

Chinese leaders have continued to uphold a constructive attitude on the six-party talks. The current consensus, based on the in-depth discussions between both sides during Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to the North Korea last year, shows an explicit commitment to the international community in a very formal manner: The general direction of the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization has not changed.

The North Korea still wishes to strive for the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization on the basis of the current consensus. In this sense, there is greater hope for resuming the six-party talks. But there are still variable factors on whether the talks can restart soon. It does not matter much whether the talks will resume soon, but it is important whether the talks will achieve substantial progress. Through Kim Jong Il's visit to China, we should expect that the six-party talks will achieve important progress; we should also see the complexity and instability of the issue as well as the relevant parties' responses.

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