Top Chinese officials to join North Korea founding celebrations

Group led by Vice Premier Liu Guozhong are the latest to travel to Pyongyang as it slowly opens to the outside world.

North Korean flags flying in Pyongyang at an outdoor party to mark the end of Japanese colonial rule. Many of the revellers are wearing traditional Korean clothing.
North Korea is expected to hold a parade to mark its founding on September 9 [File: KCNA via Reuters]

A high-level delegation of Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Liu Guozhong will join celebrations in North Korea to mark the country’s 75th founding anniversary this weekend.

Pyongyang marks the occasion on September 9 and has indicated it will hold a parade.

The Chinese delegation “will visit the DPRK to participate in the celebrations of the (country’s) 75th birthday”, the official Korean Central News Agency said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.

The visit came “on the invitation” of North Korea’s party and government, it added. It did not specify the events the Chinese officials would attend or whether they would meet leader Kim Jong Un.

China’s  Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the trip “starting from September 8”.

Beijing is the most important ally and economic benefactor of North Korea, which has been slowly reopening to the outside world three years after closing its borders at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, its first international commercial flight in three years landed in Beijing.

The latest trip comes less than two months after high-level Chinese and Russian delegations visited Pyongyang, and after the United States said Kim was expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin this month, probably in Vladivostok.

The two countries were in advanced talks on arms sales, the US said, with North Korea to provide the ammunition and artillery Russia desperately needs in Ukraine in exchange for food and energy aid, as well as advanced weapons technology.

There are concerns that potential Russian technology transfers would increase the threat posed by Kim’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles.

Speaking at a Southeast Asian summit on Wednesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol urged all United Nations member states to fulfil their obligations under existing Security Council resolutions to curb North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, which include a ban on arms trade with the country, his office said in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies