Country Risk

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

21 June 2019

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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