For its part, South Korea is also keen to prevent the North from slipping too far under Chinese control, even while its current support of a gradualist approach to denuclearization is in line with China’s view. In the joint communiqué released after Mr. Kim’s meeting with Mr. Moon last month, the South pledged to help the North modernize its railroads and highways.
The recent diplomatic developments have given both China and South Korea “every reason to oppose and disregard new sanctions if the U.S. tries to impose them,” said Bilahari Kausikan, the former head of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Singapore.
Mr. Cheng, the professor, said that once sanctions were eased, China could even help rebuild North Korea’s roads and ports as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s signature effort to extend its influence by helping other countries finance large-scale infrastructure projects.
During the Dalian meeting this week between Mr. Xi and Mr. Kim, the Chinese heaped praise on Mr. Kim for declaring that North Korea would now concentrate on developing its economy, where an income of $200 a month is considered upper middle class, and a Japanese bicycle is regarded as a luxury item.
Increasing numbers of North Korean businessmen have begun returning to Dandong in the last few weeks, since Mr. Kim’s first visit to China at the end of March.
A saleswoman for CNC, a Chinese real estate developer, said that North Koreans were lifting the local property market. She said desirable studios with a view of the Yalu River, fitted with imported kitchen equipment, were selling for about $100,000, twice what they fetched when they went on the market two weeks ago.