- President Donald Trump tweeted that China is sending a delegation to North Korea and that it’s a “big move.”
- But China’s foreign ministry says the meeting is routine and just to inform a fellow communist country of the results of China’s National Party Congress.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning about a top Chinese diplomat traveling to North Korea and teased that it was a “big move,” but according to China’s foreign ministry the trip is routine.
“China is sending an Envoy and Delegation to North Korea – A big move, we’ll see what happens!” Trump tweeted.
Chinese President Xi Jinping dispatched Song Tao, head of the Communist Party’s external-affairs department, to Pyongyang but his mission is to “inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK,” Chinese state-run media said, referring to North Korea by its formal name.
Song’s “main objective” in the trip is to “report on the 19th party congress,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a daily news briefing, as Reuters notes.
China routinely sends diplomats to fellow communist countries to report on the news from its National Party Congress, the twice-a-decade highest summit of China’s ruling party that comes as close as China gets to an election.
But that doesn’t rule out discussion of security or nuclear issues, which may well happen when Song visits Pyongyang.
However, Trump and Xi have not exactly been on the same page since Trump’s visit to Beijing. China’s foreign ministry on Thursday undercut a statement from Trump on Wednesday, in which he said that China and the US agreed on an approach for dealing with North Korea.
China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and treaty ally, and has cooperated with the US and the UN Security Council on sanctioning and punishing Pyongyang after its recent strides toward nuclear weapons capability, but ultimately it seeks to preserve the rogue nation’s sovereignty as a safeguard against growing US influence.