China's chief envoy for North Korean affairs said Friday the reasons he hasn't visited Pyongyang are "complicated" but that China remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution to tensions over the North's nuclear weapons program.
China’s chief envoy for North Korean affairs said Friday the reasons he hasn’t visited Pyongyang are “complicated” but that China remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution to tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program. Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou offered no details but the lack of a visit has been cited as an indication of how badly relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have deteriorated. “I am the special representative of the Chinese government on the Korean Peninsula affairs, but I have not visited North Korea yet. The reason is quite complicated,” Kong told reporters. “But regardless whether I visit North Korea, China’s commitment to safeguarding peace and stability and realizing denuclearization on the peninsula will never change,” he added. China has long been the North’s chief economic partner and political ally but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s refusal to rein in his regime’s provocative actions has left Beijing officials increasingly frustrated.
China’s support for increasingly tough United Nations sanctions has also sparked a backlash from Pyongyang. Recent moves to ban sales of North Korean coal and other key exports are believed to be causing a cash crunch although the effect on regime stability isn’t known. Despite its reservations, China wants to avoid bringing the regime crashing down, causing a potential refugee and security crisis along with the loss of a buffer between it and US-backed South Korea.
Unlike his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il, the younger Kim has yet to visit China since coming to power in 2011. The last high-level Chinese visitor to Pyongyang was Song Tao, head of the ruling Communist Party’s International Department, in November.