Pyongyang, July 1: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continued to focus on strengthening economic ties with Beijing as he paid his second visit to the border with China in quick succession, state-media reported on Sunday. Kim visited a cosmetics factory situated in Sinuiju, capital of the North Pyongan province, situated on the south bank of the Yalu River, which marks the border between the two countries, Efe news quoted the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying. In 2002 Sinuiju was designated a special economic zone by Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father, with the aim of establishing joint economic projects with Beijing. However, the execution in 2013 of Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Song-thaek, a figure close to Beijing, led to the suspension of the projects.
During the factory visit, Kim Jong-un was accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and Kim Song-nam, vice director of international affairs of the Workers’ Party of Korea, who is considered in charge of relations with China. On Saturday, KCNA had reported another border visit during which Kim Song-nam had accompanied the leader. The two visits, with hardly a day between them, mark renewed efforts by Kim to woo China, after meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping three times this year, a significant improvement in bilateral relations after a tense period. After 2017 saw heightened tensions due to continuous weapons testing by North Korea, its main trade ally China implemented UN sanctions on the regime, although it has recently advocated their gradual withdrawal after Kim’s diplomatic turnaround.
Since the beginning of 2018, the North Korean leader has met his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on two occasions, while also meeting US President Donald Trump, and signed joint declarations with the two leaders pledging to achieve total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (IANS)