Beijing gets friendly with the Koreas, Chinese consumers follow


Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi is in Pyongyang today, on a mission to “reinforce Beijing’s influence over its nuclear-armed neighbor,” the South China Morning Post reports.

  • “China will play a role in establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying 华春莹 declared, also today.
  • China, South Korea, and Japan are set to meet in Tokyo next week for a “long-delayed trilateral summit,” the SCMP notes.
  • Xi Jinping might visit North Korea in early June, a meeting that Wang is designated to negotiate, Al Jazeera says.
  • “All of China seems to think that North Korea is going to open up,” a homeowner in the China-North Korea border city of Dandong told the Financial Times (paywall), noting that “residential prices had risen 20 percent” in the city since the Kim-Xi summit in Beijing in late March.
  • China is also reaching out to South Korea. Earlier this month, the two countries held their first high-level economic meeting after a two-year hiatus, Yonhap reports. The meetings had been called off for years as Beijing balked at the installation of a U.S.-provided missile defense system (THAAD) near Seoul, but ties have been improving in recent months.
  • Chinese consumers are following. “The number of Chinese tourists is noticeably increasing since March, although it hasn’t recovered to the pre-THAAD level,” South Korea’s finance minister said, according to Reuters.
  • Finally, there is an odd and completely unconfirmed rumor that Mao Zedong’s grandson Mao Xinyu 毛新宇 was among the victims of the tour bus crash that killed 32 Chinese citizens in North Korea in late April. It’s credible. The younger Mao enjoyed his grandfather’s theories and would have enjoyed the ill-fated trip: It was a Red nostalgia tour led by Diao Weiming 刁伟铭, one of the editors and Maoists behind the Utopia (乌有之乡 wūyǒu zhī xiāng) website and bookstore.