North Korea and China are much closer than before. The role of China is yet central on the issue of North Korean missile programs and denuclearisation. The real geo-politics favours both countries. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a two day visit to China on 19-20 June. The visit opens up new visits of thought between the two countries. Earlier, he made two visits to China in the past three months by cementing mutual ties.

Beijing has been making constructive efforts to promote denuclearisation and lasting peace on the Peninsula. The results have been coming up. Kim went to China to brief President Xi Jinping about the details of his Singapore’s visit where he met with U.S. President Donald Trump. The meeting turned up historic between the two countries. Kim has promised a complete denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.

In a bit, the United States gave up its military exercises with South Korea, a long goal pursued by North Korea and also by China. While the United States have been clamping down with new taxes on Chinese imports, the relation with China are tense but on North Korean issue, ties with the United States and North Korea are warming up leading toward a denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Beijing hopes Kim’s visit will “strengthen our strategic communication on major issues to promote regional peace and stability.” The United States has been strictly pursuing the goals of denuclearisation. It is hoped that Pyongyang has been well adjusted with denuclearisation as demanded by the United States in bit to improve relations.

The U.S. side seems to be much more satisfied with North Korean guarantee of denuclearisation. President Trump said that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea (the DPRK). Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience’. Trump also said that the DPRK was no longer Washington’s “biggest and most dangerous problem,” envisioning “great potential” for Pyongyang’s future.

The summit was very important between the two leaders since the Cold War times. As a big sign of improving ties with South Korea – the stoppage of military drills by the United States is consider a big relief to enhance ties with the United States. This momentum is a big change for North Korea and China. The prospect of peace has brightened up in the Korean Peninsula and many crucial things have been moving rightly.

As far as practical denuclearisation is concerned, things have not moved into any direction. During the summit it was clearly stated that there will be a “complete denuclearisation”. There will be no nuclear threat to the United States from North Korea. Details negotiation has to be done. The stages are unknown.

The United States is in favour of complete denuclearisation and what will be response from Pyongyang. Here diplomacy is more workable than anything else especially tense military relations. Pyongyang has responded about the American prisoners and those missing in action after the 1950-53 Korean War. They believed around 2000 were buried inside North Korea. More than 36,500 US troops died in the war, and about 7,700 military personnel remain unaccounted for. The matter looks to be taking too much time to reach between the two but it is hoped that it would be solved under the good intentions of the two countries.

Unfortunately a 1994 framework of non-proliferation to ease North Korean food and oil issue could not come up. There is trust deficit between Pyongyang and Washington and things could backfire. The move between North and South Korea are headed toward a good point, yet many things have to be done along with creating some sort of understanding between North Korea and Japan as the former still doubts the peace between the United States and North Korea.

Tokyo is pushing on the abduction issue of the 1970s and 1980s if relations were normalised with Pyongyang. Japan wants a meeting with Pyongyang in this concern. Therefore, the abduction issue and denuclearisation look on the top of Japan’s agenda to normalise ties with Pyongyang. Moreover, the issue of Japan’s aid to Pyongyang solely depends on these two issues. On the abduction issue North Korea says that eight of them were died and the remaining four have never entered the country.

North Korea has repeated its stand several times but Tokyo has never accepted the claim. Let’s see how Abe and Kim would talk to each other when they come to Vladivostok meeting in September. Japan’s thinks that it sovereign right to protect its citisens were violated by North Korea and this issue must be resolved. Therefore, Japan’s normalisation with North Korea is different from the United States that focuses on mere denuclearisation.

 

The writer is Director of the China-Pakistan Study Center at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He writes on East Asian affairs.