His visit ended two days ago. The media silence on the matter confirms that there was no meeting. With the breech of diplomatic protocol, divisions between Pyongyang and Beijing deepen. China loses its influence on its historic ally. Air China, meanwhile, suspends flights to North Korea.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un snubbed Xi Jinping’s special Chinese envoy. Song Tao, head of the Communist Party's international department, was visiting Pyongyang on a four-day trip, which concluded two days ago.
The following day, neither authorities commented on a possible meeting between the Chinese delegate and the North Korean leader. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated that he "did not have other details to offer on the specifications of the visit."
For analysts, the silence of the state media suggests that this meeting did not happen. If confirmed, this refusal would be new proof of the growing division between the two historic allies and the limited influence of Beijing on Pyongyang.
For Gu Su, political analyst at Nanjing University, Kim Jong-un's decision is also a sign of breaking with diplomatic protocol: last year, Xi met the North Korean representative following the Communist Party Congress. "Reciprocity is important in the diplomatic protocol, especially among communist parties," explains Gu, saying Kim Jong-un is not happy with the Chinese president’s friendly welcome of Trump to Beijing. "It is likely that the confrontation will reduce relations between Beijing and Pyongyang to almost freezing point."
In the midst of diplomatic tensions, Air China suspended flights to Pyongyang indefinitely, arguing that the decision was taken because "business was not good". Not to mention that two days ago, Donald Trump reintegrated North Korea into the list of terrorist-sponsored countries.
Relations between China and North Korea began to crumble this year, when Beijing embraced the new punitive measures of the United Nations Security Council after Pyongyang conducted its sixth missile test in September. In response, China announced the closure of all North Korean companies and implemented a revision of the North Korean workers' visa issuance and renewal.