To say that Pyongyang rolled out the ‘red’ carpet for Chinese leader President Xi Jinping would be both a bad pun and an understatement.
The welcome that Xi received when he visited North Korea earlier this week – becoming the first Chinese leader to visit the hermit kingdom in 14 years – stood apart thanks to the adoring crowds of North Koreans who greeted him in Pyongyang. They sang patriotic songs with catchy titles like “I Love Thee, China” and “No New China Without Communist Party”. At one point, thousands of North Koreans holding placards came together to form a picture of Xi’s face against the backdrop of the Chinese flag.
The flattery worked: The two leaders, according to Reuters, agreed that strengthening bilateral ties during a time of “serious and complicated” international affairs would be good for regional peace. Video footage and photos released by North Korean state media showed Kim and Xi appearing together with large grins at the airport in Pyongyang. They drove through the streets of the capital in an open top limousine (an amazing feat, from a security logistics standpoint)/. The two later attended a “Mass Games” propaganda show entitled “Invincible Socialism.”
Photos of the two leaders in their limo were surprisingly colorful, considering the Communist orientation of their two countries.
In honor of Xi’s visit, the ruling party’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, ran a special expanded edition on Friday with eight of 10 pages devoted to photos and text about Xi’s visit.
According to state media, Kim said Xi’s visit, which may see China offer fresh support for North Korea’s floundering, sanctions-bound economy, was “decisive” to show their unchanging friendship to the world. Though we can think of at least one other ulterior motive: To show the US that China hasn’t not given up on the North, and that, if Washington wants peace on the Korean Peninsula, it will need to follow China’s advice.
Though the two leaders did offer some encouraging words on the denuclearization front:
Xi said Beijing and Pyongyang agreed that a political settlement of the Korean peninsula’s nuclear issue has been “an inevitable trend,” and that they need to continue to stick to peace talks, according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.
Xi praised Pyongyang’s work toward denuclearization, and said the world hopes the North and the US could get along.
Now, would President Trump receive a similarly ardent welcome should he ever deign to visit Pyongyang?