China will link easing or removing sanctions on North Korea with progress in denuclearization, a Chinese government official said Wednesday, as the North’s leader Kim Jong-un made another visit to Beijing this week.
In their talks Tuesday, Kim and President Xi Jinping focused on improving bilateral relations and ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons, the official told a group of South Korean journalists on the condition of anonymity.
“An improvement in the China-North Korea relationship will not only help persuade North Korea but also lead the security conditions on the Korean Peninsula into a better direction,” he said.
He reaffirmed that Beijing will continue to abide by the UN Security Council sanctions on Pyongyang, which have halved two-way trade in recent years. There’s no investment by China in the neighboring country, he said.
It’s true that Chinese firms are holding out expectations for the resumption of businesses in the North amid the peace mood, but the government’s position remains unchanged, that there should be progress in the denuclearization process before reconsidering sanctions on Pyongyang, he said.
The punitive measures are attributable to the North’s nuclear and missile programs and are not directly connected with Beijing-Pyongyang relations, he pointed out.
On the now-suspended six-party nuclear dialogue, the official claimed it’s still an effective platform.
“Historically, the six-way talks played a bridging role between North Korea and the United States for negotiations,” he said.
Furthermore, he added, South Korea, Japan and Russia need to take part in the broader initiative to establish peace and stability in the region.
He said South Korea and China should return their bilateral ties back to before the deployment of the advanced US missile defense system called THAAD in Korea.
He described it as a problem that hurts the emotions of Chinese people and causes an “internal wound” in Seoul-Beijing ties.
With regard to the timing of a trilateral summit session involving Japan, he said it may be held early next year given hectic diplomatic and political schedules, including elections in Japan, in the latter half of 2018. (Yonhap)