The State of Play in Sino-DPRK Relations | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea
It is notable that South Korea has recently been a more central player in to change, with significant implications for China-Korea relations. When Kim Jong-un visited Beijing in late March, the world took notice. That was Kim's first visit to China—and his first meeting with Chinese. China–North Korea relations are bilateral between China and North Korea. China maintains an embassy in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and a.
The State of Play in Sino-DPRK Relations
Tactically, China came out of the Singapore Summit a winner. However, the answer depends on the kinds of sanctions we are talking about.
On trade, UN sanctions on North Korean exports do not appear to have been eased based on official Chinese data. The same set of data also suggests that Chinese imports from North Korea have been in decline for 10 consecutive months since Shipment of such large commodities is a pure violation of UN sanctions and is too easily caught by satellite surveillance.
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According to Chinese interlocutors, China has lifted most of the unilateral sanctions it imposed on North Korea sinceincluding the resumption of suspended Chinese group tours to North Korea and flights between Pyongyang and Beijing as well as Shanghai.
Moreover, assistance—especially agricultural assistance—is a key area not included in the UN sanctions when it is categorized as for humanitarian purposes. As early as this past May, Chinese fertilizer manufacturers were thrilled about an upcoming government procurement oftons of urea fertilizer to be supplied to North Korea. To that end, Beijing is likely to criticize the US for any potential leniency on denuclearization, although it has a much longer-term vision of how it will be accomplished.
And it sees the potential of enhanced political cooperation to help the North maintain its domestic political stability and regime security if it does embark down a path of reform and opening up, which many Chinese believe could lead to denuclearization in the long run.
These improvements suggest China still has unique leverage over the peninsula and a potentially important role to play in the denuclearization process. It is notable that South Korea has recently been a more central player in these developments than China, which historically has played the more dominant role in North Korean affairs. The meeting appeased its only ally, ensured Chinese leverage on North Korea, and helped repair their frosty relations.
On May 7, Kim met with Xi for the second time prior to his meeting with Trump to nourish ties with Beijing. While China did not participate in the Singapore Summit, its influence was certainly present.
For instance, Kim flew the Chinese state-owned Air China Boeing jet, which reportedly normally carries Xi, for his first overseas visit. Should the summit and the follow-up diplomacy prove to be a turning point on North Korean denuclearization, the role of China in achieving this historic goal is bound to change, with significant implications for China-Korea relations.
Conflict of Interest or a Win-Win Situation? Access to the ice-free harbor in Rason—the Rajin port—could shorten shipping routes from China to Japan, cities in southern China and other Southeast Asian countries. Both Russia and China have called for gradual sanctions relief should the situation on the peninsula improve. As the North Korean market slowly normalizes, Chinese companies will face stiffer competition from other foreign investors trying to take advantage of low-cost offers from the North.
But this is not necessarily a disadvantage for China—diversified investment sources will spread Chinese risk which has traditionally been high.
China–North Korea relations - Wikipedia
This means Beijing supports the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula so long as it contributes to both of these aims. Pyongyang has played into this competition well, seeking to restore China-North Korea bilateral political and economic support while taking initial steps towards denuclearization with the United States.
In the long term, it is uncertain whether the North will choose to tilt toward China or the United States or to adopt a traditional small state diplomatic strategy of playing one country off against the other.