Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop sees Kim's first diplomatic visit abroad as a sign that the imposed sanctions are hurting the regime.
Japan’s Kyodo News first speculated that a mystery train which arrived in Beijing on Monday was carrying North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
The train was heavily secured, and looked a lot like the one his father Kim Jong-il took to the Chinese capital in 2011.
On Wednesday, Chinese news agency Xinhua and then North Korean media confirmed that Kim had indeed visited the country.
“Xi said Kim’s current visit to China, which came at a special time and was of great significance, fully embodied the great importance that Comrade Chairman and the WPK Central Committee have attached to the relations between the two countries and the two parties,” Xinhua reported.
It is a huge deal because it is the first time Kim has travelled abroad since becoming ‘Supreme Leader’, and comes at a time he has shown a willingness to speak with China’s rivals South Korea and the US.
As Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop suggests, this indicates that the heavy sanctions imposed on the regime are having the desired effect.
“Kim Jong-un knows he needs China’s support, and China has been very helpful in recent times in imposing significant economic sanctions on North Korea in order to bring North Korea to the negotiating table,” she told Sky News.
“Collectively the UN Security Council and a number of other countries around the world have been exerting maximum economic pressure on North Korea, and if Kim Jong-un has reached out to Beijing, it shows that pressure is working.”
“If Kim Jong-un has reached out to Beijing, it shows that pressure is working”
In the meeting, it is understood that Xi — who recently oversaw a constitutional change that could see him lead for life — discussed the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula before requesting for the sake of their alliance that they maintain frequent contact.
According to Xinhua, Kim responded positively.
“The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace,” Kim is reported to have said.
It has now been almost three weeks since Trump told a South Korean delegation at the White House that he would meet with Kim by the end of May this year, but neither a date or location has been officially locked in.