Global News has learned China is not anticipated to attend an international summit on the North Korean crisis in Vancouver next week.
A senior government source connected to the summit said not “to expect them to be there”. It isn’t clear if China was formally invited to the meeting.
The meeting of foreign ministers will take place on Jan. 16, with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both scheduled to be in attendance.
Other countries slated to send representatives include Britain, Australia, France and India.
China’s expected absence is significant but not surprising.
China’s regional weight and ties to North Korea mean it’s a central player in any attempt to resolve the crisis; but the summit’s attendees are not necessarily naturally aligned with Beijing, according to one of the prime minister’s former foreign policy advisers.
“This is a meeting where like-minded countries, including mostly allies of the United States, can talk about strengthening the coalition to apply diplomatic and economic pressure,” Roland Paris said in an interview. “And possibly begin to talk about what the outlines of a negotiated outcome could be here.”
“China absolutely needs to be part of any negotiation of the North Korean situation, as will North Korea, and North Korea’s not going to be in Vancouver either.”
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Behind the scenes, organizers insist recent developments — like North Korea’s decision to send athletes to the Olympics, or initiate military talks with South Korea — won’t alter the agenda of next week’s discussions.
The focus will remain more broadly on showing there is actual solidarity in the international community in seeking non-military solutions and that those solutions are as legitimate as any other.
But even if solidarity is shown, numerous challenges remain. A major one is the relationship between Tillerson and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“It’s not clear what kind of influence Rex Tillerson ultimately has in the administration,” Paris said. “He has been charged to build a diplomatic approach that will apply as much pressure as possible on the North Korean regime.”
“[But] whether the U.S. will sit down for face-to-face talks with the North Korean regime remains to be seen.”