[Interview] Chinese professor lauds “perfect” timing of Kim-Xi summit

Posted on : 2018-03-28 15:56 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
North Korea and China have a history of resolving bilateral problems in one fell swoop, says Jin Jingyi
Jin Jingyi
Jin Jingyi

Jin Jingyi, a professor at Peking University and an expert on Korean Peninsula affairs, predicted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to China could lead to a breakthrough that immediately clears up the complicated problems facing North Korea and China, as has often happened in the past. During an interview with the Hankyoreh on Mar. 27, Jin praised the ideal timing of Kim’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “This is a time when North Korea and China need each other,” Jin explained.

Hankyoreh (Hani): What are your impressions of Kim Jong-un’s visit to China?

Jin Jingyi (Jin): If you look at North Korea-China relations, there’s a tendency for every crisis to be resolved all at once, in one fell swoop. During the August Incident in 1956 [a factional struggle inside North Korea when Kim Il-sung’s faction consolidated its power by purging the Soviet and Yanan factions] the two sides did not visit each other directly, but the disagreement was resolved during a meeting between Kim Il-sung and Mao Zedong in Moscow.

Similarly, when North Korea-China relations deteriorated because of mutual recrimination during the Cultural Revolution, they were restored once more when Zhou Enlai visited the North in 1971. When North Korea-China relations soured after China established diplomatic relations with South Korea, they were repaired when Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly, visited China in 1999.

Hani: What was the likely reason that this visit happened right now?

Jin: North Korea-China relations are worse than they have ever been before. They had to improve at some point. This is also a time when North Korea and China need each other. That’s why I think the timing was perfect.

Hani: How should Kim Jong-un’s actions be assessed?

Jin: If the ultimate goal of developing nuclear weapons and missiles was to achieve a sweeping breakthrough leading to the normalization of North Korea-US relations and signing a peace treaty, we would have to regard all these movements as having followed a set plan.

Hani: If North Korea-China relations are restored, how will that affect the situation on the Korean Peninsula?

Jin: I think it will have a positive effect on both the inter-Korean summit and the North Korea-US summit. If Kim Jong-un has made up his mind to denuclearize and envisions a “grand bargain” in which he completely abandons the North’s nuclear weapon and missile program, that’s not just good for any one side – it’s good for all sides.

Hani: What will this mean for China as it moves into a trade war with the US?

Jin: Many people expected that if China cooperated on the North Korean nuclear issue, the US would ease its pressure on trade issues, but that didn’t happen. For the US, the North Korean nuclear issue was just a way to put pressure on China.

By Kim Oi-hyun, Beijing correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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