Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported that the DPRK Embassy in Beijing hosted a reception commemorating the 30th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s “maiden visit” to China in 1983. Attending the reception from the Chinese government were Vice President Li Yuanchao, Deputy Director of the Communist Party of China’s International Liaison Department Liu Jieyi and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin. DPRK Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong and embassy personnel attended on behalf of the DPRK. In his anniversary speech, according to KCNA, Ji Jae Ryong remarked “that the maiden visit to China by Kim Jong Il was a historic event which greatly contributed to putting on a new high stage the traditional DPRK-China friendship which was provided and cultivated by President Kim Il Sung together with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai and other leaders of the elder generation of China and stood all tests of history and to ensuring the peace and security in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world and advancing the human cause of independence against imperialism” and that “Kim Jong Un is paying deep attention to boosting the DPRK-China friendly relations true to the noble intention of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.” Ji also said “we will as ever make joint efforts with Chinese comrades to steadily boost the traditional DPRK-China friendship.”
According to KCNA, Li Yuanchao said in his speech that “Kim Jong Il worked heart and soul to develop the Korean revolution and construction and the traditional Sino-DPRK friendly relations and made important contributions” and “First Secretary Kim Jong Un in his recent personal letter sent to General Secretary Xi Jinping underlined the need to carry forward and develop the traditional Sino-DPRK friendly relations.” Li also said “the Chinese party and government set great store by the Sino-DPRK friendly relations and the new collective leadership of the Communist Party of China will together with the party and government of the DPRK respect and trust each other and conduct friendly exchange and cooperation in the spirit of inheriting the tradition, facing up to the future, building good-neighborly friendship and strengthening cooperation and thus promote the development of the Sino-DPRK friendly relations and defend the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
The reception in Beijing followed a similar anniversary event hosted by the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Committee at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang on 4 June. The Pyongyang reception commemorating the 30th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s visit to China was attended by PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai, PRC Embassy personnel and Chinese nationals and students working in the DPRK. KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department [IAD] Kim Yong Il attended the reception on behalf of the DPRK, and was joined by officials from the IAD, the DPRK Foreign Ministry and the National Defense Commission.
In his speech Kim Yong Il said “Kim Jong Il’s visit to China in June 1983 marked a historic event of weighty significance in boosting the traditional DPRK-China friendship generation after generation” and “recalled that senior officials of the party and state of China enthusiastically welcomed Kim Jong Il, who paid a maiden visit to their country as most important state guest and accorded him cordial hospitality with all sincerity.” Kim Yong Il also remarked that “Kim Jong Il, setting greatest store by the DPRK-China friendship provided by President Kim Il Sung, exerted great efforts to make the deeply rooted friendship flourish and develop. It is the noble duty and obligation of the present generation to steadily boost the precious DPRK-China friendship associated with great efforts of the leaders of the elder generation of the two parties and countries. The recent visit paid by a special envoy of Comrade Kim Jong Un to China marked an important occasion in steadily boosting the DPRK-China friendly relations, wealth common to the peoples of the two countries, as required by the new times.” According to KCNA, Kim also said that “tt is the unshakable political stand of the WPK and the government of the DPRK to steadily develop the DPRK-China friendship, he said, stressing that the WPK would in the future, too, to boost with vitality and dynamism the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.”
Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai, according to KCNA, said “General Secretary Kim Jong Il visited China several times to forge close relations with Chinese party and state leaders and worked heart and soul to boost the Sino-DPRK friendly and cooperative relations” and that “China and the DPRK are the friendly neighbors linked by the same mountain and rivers, he said, stressing that it is the consistent stand of the Chinese party and government to steadily develop the Sino-DPRK friendly relations.” Liu also said “the Chinese side deems it important to invariably develop the Sino-DPRK friendly relations on a strategic height and from a long-term viewpoint” and Liu “underscored the need to further value the Sino-DPRK friendship, the precious common treasure of the two peoples, and carry forward and develop it generation after generation.” Liu “recalled that the special envoy of First Secretary of Kim Jong Un visited China and met with General Secretary Xi Jinping and other leading officials of China and had an in-depth and candid exchange of views on issues of common concern” and said “the relations between the two countries at present have entered a new historic phase. . .underlining the need to promote common development on the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit and co-prosperity and thus bring welfare to the two peoples.”
The two events commemorating the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s visit to China in 1983 appear to be part of a reconciliation process between the DPRK and China. The Beijing reception was attended by PRC Vice President Li Yuanchao, who visited the DPRK Embassy on a condolence call after Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011 and who lead a CPC delegation on an official visit to the DPRK in June 2011, during which he met with the late DPRK leader. Also attending the Beijing anniversary event were Liu Jieyi, who escorted VMar Choe Ryong Hae during his visit to Beijing in May 2013, and Liu Zhenmin, who had previously participated in several senior DPRK-PRC interactions.