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Fifth China-North Korea summit highlights pressure on US to alter negotiating position for “denuclearisation” talks to progress

21 June 2019
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On 20 and 21 June, Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first head-of-state visit to North Korea. In the capital Pyongyang, Xi and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un commemorated 70 years of diplomatic relations. The timing of the summit is significant: at a time when China-US relations are particularly poor, when Xi's administration is associated with large-scale protests in Hong Kong, and just before the 28-29 June G20 summit, on the sidelines of which Xi is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump.

In addition, the summit notably reaffirms the allies' traditional relationship: in 2017 China criticised North Korea for destabilising regional security by conducting ballistic missile and nuclear tests, and in 2018 China and the US had a mutual interest in diplomacy to slow or reverse North Korea's weapons progress.

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