Kim Jong-Un has reportedly requested a formal state visit to Beijing, but his Chinese neighbors may not thrilled by the idea of North Korea's leader crashing on their couch. According to Reuters' Benjamin Kang Lim, Kim's uncle, Jan Song-thaek, went to China last week to request a state visit some time in September, but the meeting apparently did not go over so well.
For starters, the Chinese are not happy with North Korea's continued threats of nuclear weapon tests, which have only increased since Kim took over the country's leadership last year. China's foreign ministry considers North Korea's aggression to be disrespectful and dangerous. Complicating matters even further, China is planning for its once-a-decade leadership change at a Communist Party Congress this fall and would rather not have the distraction of entertaining visitors.
However, China can't afford to ignore Kim entirely. The reason he has requested the meeting is to ask for help with economic reforms, which could both keep China's "ally" stable and help buffer the rising power of South Korea. They may be an unreliable ally, but a failed North Korean state sharing a border with China would be even more troublesome. China could seize this opportunity as chance to force Kim back into international peace talks and use the possibility of a visit as bargaining chip to keep the new leader in line. It already caused quite a stir when it was merely hinted he might go to Iran, but for the president of a country with few friends, Kim Jong-Un can't be too picky.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.