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China's No.3 official to visit N. Korea

Zhao Leji is highest-ranking Chinese official to travel to NK since COVID-19

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : April 9, 2024 - 17:50

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Zhao Leji, the current Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee member is seen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. (File Photo - AFP) Zhao Leji, the current Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee member is seen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. (File Photo - AFP)

China's top legislator and No. 3 official, Zhao Leji, is set to visit North Korea from Thursday to Saturday as the two countries mark the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties this year, China's Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.

The delegation of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government, led by Zhao, will "make an official goodwill visit" to North Korea, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Mao Ning said.

Mao explained that the invitation for the delegation was extended by both the North Korean government and the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

The Chinese delegation will also participate in the "opening ceremony of the China-DPRK Friendship Year," Mao said. The DPRK is the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The friendship year was declared by leaders of China and North Korea to commemorate the 75th anniversary of relations on October 6th this year.

Mao said China's dispatch of a high-level delegation and their attendance at the opening ceremony of the China-DPRK Friendship Year "demonstrates deep friendship between the two countries and China's high regard for the China-DPRK relationship."

The spokesperson underscored that the visit would be a success with the joint efforts of both parties, "leading to further deepening and development of China-DPRK relations."

Zhao's visit marks him as the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since North Korea lifted COVID-19 restrictions.

Zhao is the third-highest-ranking member within the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, behind President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang.

Moreover, he serves as the esteemed chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which is China's supreme organ of state power and its national legislature.

North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency also announced the trip on the same day. However, the report did not provide further information, including the date and duration as well as the purpose of the trip.

Zhao's trip to North Korea came three weeks after Kim Song-nam, who serves as North Korean director of the international affairs department of the Party Central Committee, met the Chinese Communist Party's No. 4 official Wang Huning in Beijing on Mar. 21.

The officials have agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and increase cooperation and exchanges in various fields between the two sides in commemoration of the 75th anniversary.