06 July 2005

Beijing Tests North Korean Waters

Liu Jingqin, former Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (IDCPC) and now Vice-President of the Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD) arrived in Pyongyang July 5, according to KCNA.

In his previous role, Liu served from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s as part of China’s Party-to-Party apparatus for maintaining primarily PR ties with other Communist and Leftist parties around the globe. Liu made several overseas visits in that role to Europe, Latin America and North Korea.

More recently, Liu has joined with the CPAPD, an NGO-type organization (despite informal links with the central government) that serves as an umbrella for several Chinese disarmament organizations focusing on the elimination of nuclear weapons, space-based weapons and other war technology.

Liu’s visit to Pyongyang offers an informal way for Beijing to test the waters of the North Korean leadership in anticipation of a potential trip by Chinese President Hu Jintao to North Korea to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Hu will not go to Pyongyang unless he can gain assurances from Kim to play along with the six-party talks and thus give China additional leverage in dealing with the United States.

Washington has recently called off the congressional attack dogs and delayed debate on the Schumer bill, and in return, Beijing is expected to provide the “quo” – North Korean acquiescence or at least a return to the table – in return for Washington’s “quid.” Should Pyongyang fail to play along, Beijing loses nothing by the unofficial NGO visit by Liu. Should Pyongyang play ball, another, more formal visit will come to finalize Hu’s travel plans.

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