Night Watch

North Korea-China: Kim Jong Un's special envoy in Beijing, Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae met Chinese Communist Party official Liu Yunshan on 23 May. Choe told Liu that North Korea seeks dialogue with "related countries."

He also said, "Korea is trying hard to develop its economy and improve the people's lives, while hoping for peaceful international surroundings," according to Chinese state television.

"The Korean side hopes to work continuously with China to improve China-Korea relations." Choe said the North Korean government assesses Chinese efforts for Korean Peninsula peace and security very highly.

In response, Liu reportedly emphasized, "Preserving Korean Peninsula peace and security is in the combined interests of every country in this region." He added that China wants to see all parties seek Korean Peninsula denuclearization, peace and security, and to resolve issues through dialogue.

Comment: On the second day of his visit, Vice Marshal Choe was accorded better treatment. For example, he met Liu, who is a member of the standing committee of the Politburo and handles international relations. The meeting with Liu was the first with a senior Chinese official of similar protocol stature. Chinese media also identified Choe by his rank and military title.

Neither Chinese nor North Korean media commented on the atmosphere. North Korean treatment was effusive, bordering on fawning. It strongly suggested that the primary purpose of the visit was to pander for a Chinese invitation for Kim Jong Un to visit China and be accepted as were the "leaders of the elder generation."

The Chinese have not abandoned North Korea, but Liu repeated the Chinese position on denuclearization, peace and security and dialogue. No statement has yet to mention sanctions.

Choe is the top commissar in the Korean People's Army. A sign of Chinese tutelage of Choe is his visit to the Beijing Economic and Technological Development District. Chinese television aired an image of the Vice Marshal and his entourage inspecting a model of the District.

There is precedent for Chinese leaders insisting that Vice Marshal Choe visit an economic development project, completely outside his responsibilities. .During the early to mid-1990's Vice Marshal and later Marshal Choe Kwang was the Chief of the General Staff and became Minister of the People's Armed Forces. Choe was one of the World War II and Korean War comrades of Kim Il-sung.

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