Xi concludes successful visit to North Korea

Reception ‘unprecedented, beyond highest level’ in North Korea

General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to Beijing Friday afternoon after concluding a successful state visit to North Korea.

Xi said his successful visit has consolidated the traditional China-North Korea friendship and made clear the direction of bilateral ties in the new era, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The remarks were made during Xi’s meeting at the state guest house with Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It also demonstrated both sides’ determination to push for a political solution to the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula and to promote lasting peace and security in the region, Xi said.

On Friday, Xi paid homage to martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army at the Friendship Tower in Pyongyang. Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were accompanied by Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju.

The tower was established in 1959 by then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. It is dedicated to the soldiers and officers of the Chinese People’s Volunteers Army who died during the Korean War (1950-53) and other Chinese volunteers who joined the war and the post-war reconstruction effort.

During the visit, Xi said we should remember the martyrs and review the glorious history of the older generations who fought side by side.

He also encouraged future generations to remember and inherit the traditional friendship between China and North Korea.

Xi said the tribute paid to the tower also demonstrates the firm determination of China and North Korea to maintain peace.

He urged the two sides to pass on the friendship from generation to generation, consolidate and develop the socialist cause of the two countries, better benefit the two peoples and promote regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.

Xi’s two-day visit, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years, received wide attention.

Rodong Sinmun, the WPK’s flagship newspaper, expanded from six to 10 pages on Friday, and eight of the pages were about Xi’s visit with around 60 photos.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency and Korean Central Television also ran detailed reports about Xi’s visit.

Slogans reading “Long live the China-North Korea friendship” and “Unbreakable friendship” were seen on Pyongyang streets.

Marking 70th anniversary

Xi said the trip has also realized the “historic exchange of visits” by the top leaders of the two parties and countries in such an important year as the one that marks the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, and the fifth gathering between him and Kim in 15 months, Xinhua said.

Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said the visit is historic as it shows that the bilateral ties have further expanded despite changes in the regional and global situation.

Though North Korea has seen an improvement in relations with South Korea and the US, the country realized, in the past few months, that China is the only country that is truly concerned about its security and the only country that is capable of protecting its security, said Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Unlike the US, which prefers military and sanction approaches and only leads to the “extreme anxiety” of North Korea, China proposed that development is the solution to North Korea’s security issue, and this strategic direction was clearly stressed in Xi’s trip, Zheng said.

Xi said that China will firmly support North Korea’s socialist enterprise, the implementation of its new strategic line and a political solution to solving the nuclear issue and creating lasting peace and security in the peninsula.

Xi’s visit helped review the past 70 years of bilateral relations, envisioned the future of bilateral ties, and demonstrated to the world the unbreakable traditional friendship between the two countries, said Kim, Xinhua reported.

The visit is a milestone for China-North Korea relations as it, for the first time, noted the future direction of the bilateral relations and made it clear that China is willing to offer what it can to help North Korea address its reasonable security and development concerns, Zheng said.

As a responsible country, China is also exploring cooperation with North Korea that does not violate UN Security Council sanctions and could improve its people’s livelihood, such as in culture, education, sports, science and technology, Da said.

Meanwhile, analyst noted that the visit also contributed to stability on the Korean Peninsula and the political and peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the peninsula.

Xi said Friday that his visit has been cloaked with a warm atmosphere that reflects the deep and profound friendship between the CPC and the WPK, as well as between the two countries.

Xi was welcomed at a banquet hosted by Kim on Thursday. Following the banquet, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, accompanied by Kim and his wife, watched a grand and marvelous gymnastics and artistic performance at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang.

The reception for Xi was unprecedented in North Korea’s history, and went far beyond its “highest level” to a foreign leader, Zheng said.

It’s the first time that North Korea’s top leader and his wife received a foreign leader at the airport together in Pyongyang, and also the first time that as many as 250,000 people were mobilized to welcome a foreign guest, said Zheng.

It also marked the first time that a foreign leader was received at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

The palace is where Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea, worked and lived. It is also a magnificent building that serves as the mausoleum for Kim Il-sung and his son and former North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, who were both posthumously designated eternal leaders of North Korea.

The political trust between the two parties and governments, as well as the two countries’ traditional friendship, was fully demonstrated in the trip, analysts said.

Through the unprecedented reception, North Korea expressed its strong desire to further the friendship. It also wanted to show the world that the friendship would not be easily challenged by some outside disturbances, said Da.