24 September 2005

Hu's Not Coming to Visit

Chinese President Hu Jintao told Moon Hee Sang, Chairman of the Uri Party, that he has no plans to visit North Korea soon. Hu added that "It is true Chairman Kim Jong Il has invited me and I accepted the invitation," but gave no timetable for a trip.

Hu’s visit to Pyongyang has been delayed several times (see also 1,2,3,4), a sign of the continuing strain in relations between the two neighbors. North Korea has left China high and dry several times in the current nuclear crisis as Beijing attempted to use its sway in Pyongyang as a negotiation tactic with Washington. Instead, Pyongyang has used China, and leaned more toward South Korea, with the occasional flirtation with Russia (see also 1,2). This has left Beijing looking the fool at times, and feeling increasing heat from Washington.

Hu’s public snub of a soon-visit to Pyongyang serves as a reminder to the North that China is not pleased, and further that China can always reduce its support – political and economic – of the North. But Pyongyang is less concerned of this than it has been in the past, given the evolution of Seoul’s attitude toward the North.

And the strange dance continues.

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