Posted October. 12, 2015 10:22,
North Korea held a military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korean Workers` Party on Saturday. Beijing`s senior envoy Liu Yunshan, the Chinese Communist Party`s fifth-ranked leader, attended the event, which was of great significance. North Korea treated him with the utmost respect by having Liu stand directly to the left of Kim Jong Un and North Korea`s state-run broadcast mainly focused on conversations between the two. This is seen as a sign that the weakened relationship between the two countries since Kim Jong Un`s succession in 2011 has recovered.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his letter to Kim Jong Un, "The long friendship between China and North Korea is a treasure made and improved by the former leaders of the two countries. I hope the relationship will continue to grow based on a strategic and long-term view." Liu said, "Communication between the leaders of the two countries should be reinforced," mentioning the possibility of a bilateral summit. Kim responded to this also by emphasizing continuous interchange between the leaders.
The improving bilateral relationship could be considered as restoring a channel to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. But if North Korea recovers its close friendship with China without giving up provocations to South Korea, it will be more difficult to stop it from developing nuclear weapons and shooting long-range missiles. In his 20 minute-long speech, Kim never mentioned nuclear weapons, but seen in the parade were KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and a nuclear pack unit. "(ICBM is) strategic rockets loaded with diversified and miniaturized nuclear warheads," said North Korean media when the camera was capturing the missiles in the parade. This has weakened the agreement made between Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama in September that "North Korea will not be considered as a nuclear power, and its actions ignoring resolutions of the U.N. Security Council will be dealt with sternly." If China holds hands with North Korea, it might be seen as acknowledging North Korea`s possession of nuclear weapons.
Some speculate that since Kim emphasized policies for his people and did not make any hostile remarks against South Korea, he may work on carrying out the Aug 25 Agreements including allowing reunions for displaced families. Excluding shooting long-range missiles from the parade was another optimistic sign. But this does not necessarily mean that North Korea will stop provocations. Russian President Vladimir Putin persuaded Kim Jong Un and drew the Moratorium on launching long-range missiles in 2000. If Xi wants to recover the close bond between China and North Korea and get advocacy from the international community, he would need to make an accomplishment of the same significance as what Putin did.
During the meeting with President Park Geun-hye in September, Xi said he was against any action that escalates the tension in the Korean Peninsula. If he forgets his warning to North Korea and embraces the country, the elaborated cooperation between South Korea, the U.S., and China on pressing North Korea will have been in vain. There will be a Korea-U.S. summit in Washington on Friday and a Korea-China-Japan summit in late October or early November. China should lead the international movement for fundamental changes of North Korea in order to uphold peace and stability in Northeast Asia.