By Li Jiacheng
The situation on the Korean Peninsula has improved this year since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced the transformation of his diplomatic strategies in the 2018 New Year's speech and the country participated in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Peace and dialogue have again become the main theme, which is partly attributed to China's constructive role in the issue.
Kim paid an unofficial visit to China and met Chinese President Xi Jinping weeks before planned summit meetings with South Korean and US leaders. The Xi-Kim meeting drew world attention and showed China's significant role of directing the situation on the peninsula. Despite being an unofficial visit, Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju and a delegation of North Korean senior officials also traveled to Beijing. This revealed that Pyongyang valued this trip as it was a rare event for previous North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il to pay state visits or meet foreign leaders with their wives.
Undoubtedly the Xi-Kim meeting carried political significance, manifested the continuation of the historic traditional Beijing-Pyongyang bonds and highlighted China as a major power adjacent to the peninsula that takes important strategic status. It marked a major milestone in the two countries promoting peace and stability on the peninsula. Kim's visit to China is a fruitful result of China's endeavor to solve problems through dialogue and consultation and lead the peninsula in a positive direction.
China is committed to enhancing dialogue and negotiation, advancing reconciliation and cooperation among all parties, which is in accordance with the common interests of all stakeholders and paves the way for a thaw on the peninsula as well as regional peace and stability.
Kim told Xi his regime was "committed to denuclearization" and was willing to have a dialogue with South Korea and the US, adding that the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula could be resolved if South Korea and the US responded to goodwill efforts and created an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace.
Kim's long-expected pledge to hold talks with leader of South Korea and the US showed that China is a major contributing factor in building peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea's claim to achieve the realization of peace by "taking progressive and synchronous measures" follows the principle of "commitment for commitment, action for action" embodied in the Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks issued on September 19, 2005 and is in line with China's proposal of a "dual suspension" and "dual track" approach. US President Donald Trump spoke highly of the Xi-Kim meeting. "For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong-un will do what is right for his people and for humanity," Trump posted on Twitter, adding that he was keen to meet Kim after being told the North Korean leader's trip to China "went very well."
As South Korea and the US prepare to hold summits with the North in April and May, the situation on the peninsula is expected to witness a turning point. It is necessary to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula and protect relevant parties' reasonable claims to rights. China remains committed to playing an important role in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation.
The author is a research fellow at the research center for economies and politics of transitional countries, Liaoning University.