China hedges on talk of Dear Leader’s death
Chinese officials hedged a bit yesterday when questioned about a rumor that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, had died.
Speculation swept Seoul’s stock market yesterday afternoon that Mr. Kim had been shot and killed.
At its daily press briefing yesterday in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Zhang Qiyue, said she had not been informed about such a report and did not know if the rumor was true.
Ms. Zhang said no abnormal signs had been seen in the North, citing a remark by Wu Dawei, the vice foreign minister in charge of Asian affairs.
After a series of news reports on unexplained incidents in North Korea, including the disappearance of portraits of Mr. Kim that Pyeongyang said were untrue despite photographic evidence, nerves were on edge about the possibility of some sort of upheaval in North Korea. In that atmosphere, stock market rumors here took on a life of their own.
Seoul also has denied that anything unusual was going on in the North.