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Chinese troops set up camp on North’s border

Nov 23,2004
WASHINGTON ― Satellite surveillance photos indicate that a 10,000-man Chinese army division is making preparations for a prolonged deployment along the Chinese-North Korean border, sources in Washington said.
The sources said on Monday that the photos show that the Chinese division, which in September moved from the interior to the border area close to North Korea, was in the process of building winter barracks.
“These forces are elite combat soldiers and are now being positioned along the Chinese-North Korean border,” the sources said.
Analysts have said the positioning of the Chinese troops is a move to have forces available in case of an abrupt political change that could include the downfall of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-il.
“What was first thought to be a move to block a massive influx of North Korean defectors looks now more like a preemptive move anticipating internal turmoil,” the sources said.
Meanwhile, the New York Times carried a report yesterday quoting Shinzo Abe, the leader of Japan's governing party, as saying in a televsion interview, “We should consider the possibility that a regime change will occur.”
Mr. Abe urged the Japanese government to be prepared for the possibility.
Last week, several international media reported the removal of Mr. Kim’s portraits from some public buildings inside North Korea, suggesting there might be an internal upheaval under way.
South Korean government officials continue to dismiss the reports as nothing out of the ordinary. Though Kim’s schedule is cloaked in secrecy, everything appeared normal.
“We don’t think there are unusual signs coming out of the North that something is going on,” said a Foreign Ministry official.


by Kang Chan-ho, Brian Lee


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