Chinese media hails VK Singh’s visit to North Korea; backs New Delhi-Pyongyang ties
India chose not to ignore the delicate diplomatic circumstances in the Far East where a number of parties are trying to tame a belligerent North Korea to opt for peace and development as it sent its junior minister for external affairs VK Singh to Pyongyang in a surprise move in a bid to revive ties with the Kim Jong-un regime.
The Chinese media welcomed the development saying it sent more signals that North Korea will want to seek better ties with the international community.
Singh's two-day visit starting May 16- the first by an Indian minister to the hermit kingdom in 20 years - came at a time when North Korea was re-hardening its stand by cancelling an official-level meeting with South Korea and also threatening to cancel the June 12 summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump, thanks to hard gestures displayed by the American side in recent times.
"Singh was the first Indian minister received by the North Korean government in the country in nearly two decades, which added to evidence that Pyongyang will be willing to seek better ties with the international community," said a report in China's Global Times.
"After North Korea announced it would suspend all nuclear tests, the country has taken a positive attitude in advancing multilateral diplomacy. Pyongyang's efforts to improve the external environment are likely to be a prelude to promoting domestic economic development," it added.
North Korea's leader has made economic growth the nation's new top priority, but has yet to give a clear roadmap on how to revive its economy. The more active Pyongyang's multilateral diplomacy is, the greater possibility that North Korea will buy into an economic reform and opening-up program.
Although India's political stance is completely opposite to North Korea's and it has also expressed concerns over Pyongyang's careless nuclear pursuits in the recent past, its economic ties with North Korea have always been big (India is the third largest trading partner of North Korea after China and Saudi Arabia).
That rapport, however, took a hit last year when India halted all trade with North Korea except food and medicine to toe the sanctions the United Nations imposed over Pyongyang because of its dangerous nuclear weapons experiments.
The Global Times report said India had some advantages to harness by reviving its ties with North Korea.
"India is one of North Korea's largest trading partners and a major source of food aid. Refined petroleum products, food and medicine are among the main components of its exports to North Korea. All those are urgently needed in the isolated country," it said.
"Economic cooperation between India and North Korea may pick up as soon as the UN Security Council begins to loosen economic sanctions against North Korea. Singh's visit sent a signal that India is likely to be one of the first parties that Pyongyang might seek to cooperate with in a bid to revive its economy."
The Chinese news website also praised India's outreach to North Korea through Singh's visit, saying it could increase her economic presence in East Asia and also said that China would back economic relations between India and North Korea as it is for regional integration.
"It will be an inevitable consequence of the economic integration in Asia promoted by the denuclearization hope of the Korean peninsula. China will support the regional integration process by any means.
The country holds a positive attitude toward the development of economic relations between India and North Korea. Beijing will most likely be willing to work with India to encourage North Korea to gradually open up its economy and help the country improve its citizens' living conditions," the report said.