North Korea's strategic dependence on China unchanged: expert

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's three China visits before and after his historic meeting with US President Donald Trump has broken the isolated country's diplomatic tradition, signaling its persisting dependence on China politically and economically, according to an expert.

The hob-nob between Pyongyang and Beijing could play a positive role in opening a new chapter for the bilateral relations and building mutual trust between the two countries' people, said Yue Li, a senior fellow and executive director of the Center for Northeast Asian Studies at Pangoal Institution.

"The repeated communication with China shows North Korea's strategic dependence on China when it comes to vital events. At the same time, it also indicates China's diplomatic influence in the region," said Yue.

Since the Korean War that broke out in 1950, China has long been a reliable trade partner and political supporter of North Korea, which is now under severe sanctions by the United Nations. Exports to China are seen as a major way for North Korea to gain revenue stream.

During the three visits to China, Chinese President Xi Jinping was thought to have provided security and economic guarantees in exchange for Kim's promise to denuclearize his country, even though Trump once said that Xi created obstacles for the Trump-Kim summit.

But the facts show that the Trump-Kim summit could not take place without the support of China, said Yue, adding that China's participation could bring stability, peace and prosperity to Northeast Asia.

At a regular press conference which was held after the Trump-Kim meeting, Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the political settlement process of the Korean Peninsula problems is following the Beijing-proposed "dual-track" approach calling for simultaneous suspension of North Korea's nuclear program and the joint military drills of the United States and South Korea, hinting that China remains an important party in dealing with the Korean Peninsula affairs amid media reports saying Beijing was marginalized.

A source told that Kim reported the summit results to Beijing earlier than Trump's post-summit press conference where the US president announced to "end war games" with South Korea, which stunned his Asian allies.

Yue said that after the Trump-Kim summit, China and other neighboring countries will give a hand to revitalize North Korea's economy under the principle of respect.

Previously, Kim pledged to conduct economic reforms and ordered the demolition of a nuclear test site, which was witnessed by global journalists on the spot.

"China is prepared to give economic assistance to North Korea" if the latter can fulfill its promise of denuclearization, said Yue.

The integration of North Korea into the international community and world economy will inject new energy into the economy of Northeast Asia, said Yue, adding that whether to follow the trend would be a significant strategic choice for Kim.

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