China Boosts Ties With North Korea, Russia in Wake of U.S. Talks
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, left, and Xi Jinping, China’s president, right, at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019. (Photographer: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool via Bloomberg)

China Boosts Ties With North Korea, Russia in Wake of U.S. Talks

China is looking to boost ties with North Korea and Russia following a contentious meeting with U.S. officials in Alaska last week.

“We are willing to work hand in hand with North Korean comrades to maintain, consolidate and develop China-North Korean relations,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency, citing verbal messages delivered on behalf of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The messages come after senior U.S. diplomats visited Japan and South Korea before the meeting with their Chinese peers, as Washington seeks to shore up its alliances in Asia. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he wants to work with “like-minded countries” to forge a common approach to China.

Beijing may also be taking stock of its own allies, with a visit from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week.

In an interview with media outlets including China Global Television Network, he called for cooperation between Russia and China in response to hegemony pursued by some Western countries led by the U.S. Lavrov also promoted settlement of deals in currencies that can replace the U.S. dollar and help reduce risks posed by sanctions.

Xi reiterated that China is willing to work with North Korea and other related parties to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, according to Xinhua. The remarks were delivered by Song Tao, a senior Chinese diplomat, and Ri Ryong Nam, North Korea’s new ambassador to China, during a meeting on Monday.

In Seoul last week before meeting Chinese officials, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Biden’s approach toward North Korea was still under review and stressed China’s “clear self-interest” in getting its neighbor and Cold War ally back to the table.

China is North Korea’s biggest benefactor, for years providing a lifeline that helped keep its neighbor’s struggling economy afloat. Beijing is also a key player for managing the effectiveness of the global sanctions regime put in place to punish Kim Jong Un for his test of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a regular briefing Tuesday that Beijing wants to work toward progress in bilateral relations with North Korea. Sanctions on the country won’t solve anything, she said.

Kim sent a verbal message to Xi as part of their strategic communication, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday. Kim “stressed the need to strengthen the unity and cooperation between the two parties and two countries to cope with the hostile forces’ all-round challenges and obstructive moves,” KCNA said, in reference to what Pyongyang sees as the threat posed by the U.S.

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