Song’s trip comes just a week after US President Donald Trump visited Beijing as part of an Asia tour, where he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea, especially from China, with which North Korea does 90 percent of its trade.
The influential state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial that it was unwise to expect too much from his trip, saying his key mission was to inform North Korea about the party congress in Beijing.
“Song is not a magician,” the newspaper said.
“The key to easing the situation on the peninsula lies in the hands of Washington and Pyongyang. If both sides insist on their own logic and refuse to move in the same direction, even if Song opens a door for talks, the door could be closed any time.”
It is not clear whether Song will meet North Korea’s youthful leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim and President Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks over the Chinese party congress, but neither leader has visited the other’s country since assuming power.
Song’s department is in charge of the party’s relations with foreign political parties, and has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.
China’s new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country since assuming the job.