The Korea Herald, (Editorial 2010-08-3) China’s belated announcement on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s five-day visit to its northeastern provinces made clear what message the host, President Hu Jintao, gave his guest in their meeting on Friday in Changchun. […] Beijing broke its silence about Kim’s tour only minutes after he crossed the Duman (Tumen) River Monday afternoon (August 30) to return to Pyongyang. The official Xinhua News Agency summarised the conversation between the two leaders which exposed what the two allies wanted from each other.
First, Hu called for the maintenance of high-level contacts on a regular basis. Second, bilateral trade and economic cooperation should be advanced through market operations at the initiatives of enterprises under government guidance. Third, strategic communication should be strengthened via prompt, thorough and in-depth dialogues to cope with regional and international situations.
While emphasising these principles, Hu lectured Kim on China’s experiences of a reform and opening-up drive over the past three decades for the central task of economic development and socialist modernisation. Xinhua News quoted him as saying: “Economic development calls for self-dependence but cannot be achieved without cooperating with the outside world. This is the inevitable path of the times that accelerates the development of a country.”
At one point in their discussion on security affairs, Hu referred to the UN Security Council presidential statement on the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan. He stressed the need to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula which “accords with the common aspiration of the people.” These remarks indicate China’s consideration of the attack as a serious threat to the regional peace although it had deterred the UNSC from adopting a resolution directly condemning North Korea.
Kim Jong-il’s reported expression of hope for an early resumption of the six-party talks and the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula could just be lip service to his hosts, who have endeavoured to resolve the issue through the multilateral process over the past seven years. But it is certain that China pressed the North to return to the Beijing conference table, which it has boycotted since early last year.
The Chinese and North Korean announcements on Kim’s visit could not explain the atmosphere of urgency and secrecy which prevailed throughout the tour as well as the summit talks in Changchun. Kim hurriedly left for the tour on Thursday when former US President Jimmy Carter was in Pyongyang to get the release of a jailed American citizen. It was particularly discourteous in that Carter was the last foreign guest of Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, before his death in 1994.
Speculations had it that the North Korean leader with deteriorating health might have wanted to have the Chinese leadership endorse his plan to transfer power to his third son Kim Jong-eun. In return for his cooperation with China in its efforts to resume the six-party talks, Kim must have also asked for generous economic aid plus emergency supplies for the relief of flood victims.
With its advice on economic reform and openness, China is believed to have consented to a certain level of aid to the North to help stabilise its economy, which is staggering after the botched currency reform late last year. Yet, there was little hint of China making any positive response to the dynastic power transfer plan.
In the summit talks, Kim repeatedly emphasised the importance of developing DPRK-China friendship “for generations and centuries”. Xinhua did not report these remarks by itself but quoted a dispatch from the North Korean official Central News Agency. The KCNA quoted Kim as saying, according to Xinhua: “With the international situation remaining complicated, it was the important historical mission of the DPRK to hand over the baton of the traditional friendship to the next generation as a precious asset”…
Kim Jong-il is making a surprise visit to China, South Korean officials say
Rick Wallace (The Australian, 27 Aug. 2010) Kim’s armoured train was detected crossing the border yesterday morning. “We are now in the process of finding out specific destinations and the purpose (of the trip),” an official told the Yonhap news agency. Kim visited China in May and is thought by some experts to have brought his apparent successor, youngest son Kim Jong-un, to meet Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao. It was unclear whether Kim was accompanied by his son yesterday and China declined to comment.
Leonid Petrov from the Australian National University said it was a strange time for Kim’s trip and it would have to be something “urgent”. The main rail line between the countries was cut for a time two days ago and remained in a poor state after flooding. Dr Petrov suspected a ruse to give Kim a reason to avoid meeting former US president Jimmy Carter, who arrived in Pyongyang this week to seek the release of an American detained for trespassing. This would be Mr Kim’s sixth trip to China, his country’s largest benefactor.