March 31 (UPI) -- Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping opposed a second North Korean invasion of South Korea and regarded Pyongyang's military as the weaker of the two Koreas, according to a document released by Seoul's foreign ministry on Tuesday.
The South Korean diplomatic document dating from 1989 includes a summary of a conversation that took place on June 23, 1987, between Junya Yano, former chairman of the Komeito, or Clean Government Party in Japan, and South Korean delegates of the Korea-Japan Friendship Association, South Korean news service News 1 reported.
Yano was briefing the South Korean politicians on a recent trip to China, where he met with Deng, according to the report.
"Last time when I visited the People's Republic of China, and met with Deng Xiaoping, Deng showed a great interest in the issues of the Korean Peninsula," Yano reportedly said at the time.
Yano then said Deng did not support a potential North Korean invasion of the South.
"Not only does [Deng] see North Korea's military power is weaker than the South's, he also sees it does not have the capability to invade the South," Yano said during the conversation.
Deng also said Beijing would not support North Korea in the event of a North Korean attack of the South, Yano had said, according to the document.
Yano said Deng delivered messages from Kim Il Sung to the United States. The North Korean leader was seeking to improve relations with Washington at the time, the document shows.
North Korea has historically maintained strong ties with China. The relationship could be growing under Kim Jong Un, according to a South Korean analyst.
China is North Korea's biggest trading partner. Beijing could be providing assistance to Pyongyang amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to reports.