Meanwhile, South Korean and Chinese ties are becoming stronger.
There has been a fascinating developments in relations between North Korea and China over the past week.
Just before Thanksgiving, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un appeared to have snubbed China by not agreeing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic envoy.
Song Tao, head of the Communist Party’s international department, wrapped up his four-day trip to North Korea on Monday, the first visit by a senior Chinese official since 2015.
Both Beijing and Pyongyang have tried to put a positive spin on the trip but have remained tight-lipped about whether the Chinese envoy met the reclusive North Korean leader.
State media did not say if Song met Kim, a move analysts said suggested that such a meeting did not take place.
Although Song met Choe Ryong-hae, a vice-chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Kim’s right-hand man, and Ri Su-yong, Pyongyang’s top diplomat, analysts said his failure to meet Kim – if confirmed – was a deliberate snub to Xi and again showed Beijing’s limited influence over the unruly regime.
Now China has closed the “Friendship Bridge” between the two nations…for repairs!
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, or China-North Korea Friendship Bridge, across the Yalu River at the Chinese city of Dandong will be closed while North Korea repairs the approach road on its side.
Geng said that “after the maintenance, the bridge will reopen for passage,” but gave no date for the reopening or other details.
Main link between China and North Korea to be cut when Friendship Bridge closes ‘for repairs’ https://t.co/GP2bcAPGRb
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) November 24, 2017
This was shortly after Air China cancelled flights between Beijing and the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
The state-owned airline confirmed it had “indefinitely suspended” its route between the Chinese capital and the isolated nation this week.
An official in the company’s Beijing-based press office, who only gave his name as “Ding”, told Reuters flights had been suspended because: “business was not good”.
He declined to comment on when the service could resume.
Additionally, trade figures show China is upholding promised sanctions against its neighbor.
China reported no imports of coal, iron, lead, aluminum, zinc or copper from North Korea in October, according to a breakdown of Customs data released Friday, handing U.S. President Donald Trump a chance to claim Beijing has lived up to its pledge to help curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program.
With China’s support, the United Nations has agreed to two rounds of sanctions since August, including bans on North Korean exports of iron, coal, lead, seafood, textiles, as well as some oil import restrictions. The UN stepped up its restrictions after North Korea fired missiles over Japan and tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb.
Meanwhile, South Korean and Chinese relations are warming, as the two countries have agreed to strengthen economic ties following a year-long standoff after the US installed an anti-missile system in South Korea.
Beijing announced it would end the unofficial economic blockade against South Korea – although officials said its position on the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system had not changed.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a joint statement: “The two sides attached great importance to the Korea-China relationship and decided to push for the further development of the strategic cooperative partnership.”
It will be interesting to see if that “Friendship Bridge” opens up anytime soon.DONATE
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