N korea leader said to be on visit to china

Discussion in 'China' started by amoy, May 6, 2010.

  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    By Christian Oliver in Seoul

    North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-il, reportedly arrived in China yesterday in a rare trip that has prompted speculation he is seeking to rescue his country's moribund economy and ease tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship.

    China could also be making another attempt to persuade Mr Kim to return to international talks on dismantling his country's nuclear weapons, as political tensions on the Korean peninsula rise. Seoul's military officials are demanding retribution for the sinking of a warship in March, in a suspected North Korean torpedo attack that killed 46 sailors.

    A large North Korean delegation was spotted yesterday entering the Furama Hotel in Dalian, a port in north-east China. The hotel would not comment beyond saying it was booked up for two days.

    Suspicions that Mr Kim was heading the delegation himself were supported by witness accounts of heavy security cordons when an armoured train crossed into China from North Korea early in the morning. Mr Kim is widely believed to shun air travel, making his rare trips outside the country in his armoured train.

    If confirmed, this would be Mr Kim's first trip in four years to China, his country's main trading partner and, in effect, its life-support system. North Korea's Pibada(sea of blood) opera company travelled to China on Sunday, which fuelled suggestions the singers could be performing at a joint Chinese-North Korean ceremony.

    South Korean media speculated that Mr Kim could be in Dalian to seek further investment in the port of Rajin, in north-east North Korea, and assistance in infrastructure projects such as railway lines. The Chinese see Rajin as an opportunity to gain access to the Sea of Japan.

    Already suffering from crippling power shortages and food shortages, North Korea bungled its currency reform last year, which triggered sharp inflation, closed food markets and sparked extremely rare flashes of popular discontent against the one-party state.

    Beijing has traditionally been fearful of a potential regime collapse in nuclear-armed North Korea.

    Last October China appeared to have engineered a compromise on stalled international atomic negotiations when Mr Kim said he could come back to six-party talks on dismantling nuclear arms if the US would hold bilateral meetings with him as well. The six-party nations are the US, Russia, China, Japan and both Koreas.

    This warmer tone was followed by a sweeping drive to attract investment

    By Aidan Foster-Carter

    The writer is honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea at Leeds University

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