| China`s Vice President Li Yuanchao, during his visit to North Korea late last month, warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Beijing would continue to implement the United Nations Security Council`s sanctions on Pyongyang, a source said Thursday. The warning suggests that although Li`s visit was seen as a step toward restoring soured relationship between China and the North, it was actually to convey the Chinese leadership`s commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to Pyongyang.
A diplomatic source from a third country who recently visited the North said that Li gave the warning during a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Li visited Pyongyang on July 25 to attend events marking the 60th anniversary of the "war victory day," which the North calls the day when the armistice agreement was signed in 1953 to halt the Korean War.
According to the source, Li told the North Korean leader that Pyongyang`s nuclear armament would not resolve the Korean Peninsula issues and could also jeopardize China`s strategic stability. Li warned that Beijing would continue to implement the UN sanctions unless Pyongyang takes denuclearization measures "with sincerity." Li stressed that China`s stance toward the North`s nuclear program was "clear," the source said. Although China lifted some restrictions on traveling in the North, it maintains key elements of the international sanctions.
Li is the highest-level Chinese official to visit the North since the launch of the Kim Jong Un regime. North Korean media showed Li attending most events hosted by the North Korean leader during his stay in the North (July 25-28), leading observers to think that the Beijing-Pyongyang ties, which became strained after the North`s third nuclear test in February, has entered into a recovery stage.
Some experts speculate that Kim Jong Un visited a cemetery in South Pyongan Province for Chinese soldiers killed during the Korean War on July 29, after Li returned to China, because he belatedly realized the severity of the situation. Some others say that although Kim sent his key aides to China to sound out Beijing`s intentions, he might have been embarrassed by Li`s tougher-than-expected stance.
As China shows no intention to compromise on the North`s nuclear issues, some experts project that Kim`s expected visit to China will not likely happen any time soon. The Chinese leadership wants Pyongyang to show some visible changes in the North Korean nuclear issue before accepting Kim`s visit.