According to a report, China is sending a high-level special envoy to North Korea. The move comes just days after President Donald Trump’s visit to China, where he pushed Beijing to use its influence to pressure Kim Jong Un into stopping his nuclear war threats.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday that Song Tao, director of the ruling Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, would travel to North Korea on Friday.
Politico reports that Song would be the first ministerial-level Chinese official to visit North Korea since October 2015, when Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan met with leader Kim Jong Un. Liu delivered a letter to Kim from Xi expressing hopes for a strong relationship, although the respite in frosty ties proved short-lived. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin visited Pyongyang in October of last year.
The announcement did not mention Trump or the U.S.
China is the last remaining defender of the Communist North Korean dictatorship. This relationship has been a source of friction between officials in Washington and Beijing. Trump has previously criticized China, saying its leaders were not using their influence in Pyongyang to help the U.S. convince North Korea to tone down its rhetoric and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” the president said in September.
President Trump sent out an optimistic tweet following last week’s meetings that were a part of his five-nation tour of Asia.
“President Xi of China has stated that he is upping the sanctions against #NoKo. Said he wants them to denuclearize. Progress is being made,” the president tweeted.
The International Liaison Department, in charge of the Chinese communist party’s relations with foreign political parties, has effectively taken the lead in conducting China’s diplomacy with North Korea, Reuters reported.