Kim Jong Un pays another visit to China

South Korea's presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-keum said, "We especially hope that the fourth visit to China of Chairman Kim will be a steppingstone for the second North Korea and USA summit".

Diplomatic sources say Xi will probably go to North Korea at some point soon, which would make him the first Chinese leader to do so since 2005.

Kim Jong Un as expressed frustration with the United States after his meetings with president Donald Trump.

The Kim-Xi meeting coincides with talks this week between a US delegation and Beijing to de-escalate the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S.

Earlier, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that a North Korean train "possibly carrying a senior official" had crossed the border into China, passing through the Chinese border city of Dandong.

What might Mr Kim and Mr Xi be talking about?

Tuesday was Kim's 35th birthday, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry, although the date hasn't been confirmed by North Korea.

Kim is expected to stay at the highly secure Diaoyutai State Guest House in the capital's west, with meetings held at the Great Hall of the People, the hulking seat of the legislature that sits next to Tiananmen Square.

Firstly, that North Korea can exploit its new, better diplomatic relationship with the USA to ask for more from China - to play the two superpowers off against each other.

North Korea insists that Washington first build trust by lifting the sanctions imposed on that country.

The regimes of Beijing and Pyongyang are nearly as inscrutable as each other but in this case, we have a fairly good idea, thanks to Kim Jong Un's New Year address.

A year ago marked unprecedented progress in denuclearization talks, with Kim holding summits with Trump, Xi, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju leaving Pyongyang Station on January 7 to visit China
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju leaving Pyongyang Station on January 7 to visit China

Some analysts say that China Pyongyang's key diplomatic ally and main source of trade could use Kim's visit as a bargaining chip in the U.S. trade talks.

During his fourth visit to China, Kim will reportedly seek to promote US-DPRK negotiations which have so far stalled over Washington's skepticism about Pyongyang's intention to give up nuclear weapons.

Analysts believe that North Korea is already moving in that direction taking small steps toward opening up its economy, but they also add that any changes that do come will come at a very slow pace.

"North Korea has long used mainland China and its banks as a transit gateway and funding source for its many illicit businesses the world over ..."

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has agreed to several rounds of punishing economic sanctions against the North. North Korea has demanded eased sanctions and progress on formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War as part of the overall process of denuclearizing and improving bilateral relations.

North Korea has not yet commented on Jo's status.

But Kim and his predecessors have also always been wary of allowing China to get too much influence over their affairs.

South Korea blamed the 1997 death of Lee Han-young, a nephew of one of the former wives of Kim Jong Il, on North Korean agents sent on a revenge mission.

A separate geopolitical issue angered China on Monday when a US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea a vast expanse claimed by Beijing.

"Their behavior has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that. I expect they will continue to do so".

"We have shown our sincerity, we have established our stand in this, so we don't need other actions to gain the confidence of the US".

  • Rogelio Becker