Kim reaches Beijing to meet Hu

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

Kim reaches Beijing to meet Hu


A vehicle believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Chang’an Avenue in Beijing yesterday. It was the only vehicle in the North Korean convoy that was heavily tinted and armored. Kim, 68, with thinning hair, a slight limp and gaunt after a suspected stroke in 2008, was flanked by tight security after his armored train crossed into China on Monday and he arrived via motorcar convoy in Beijing yesterday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il arrived in Beijing yesterday, after making a stopover at the nearby port city of Tianjin. Kim, who arrived in Dalian in northeast China Monday, was expected to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao last night and possibly attend a dinner in his honor.

Kim, who reportedly has a fear of flying, traveled nearly 12 hours overnight in his armored train from Dalian to Tianjin. After a brief stay in Tianjin, the train arrived at the Beijing South Station about half past noon, Korea time.

Kim didn’t get off the train, however. The reclusive leader instead traveled in a vehicle convoy and reached Beijing about four hours after the train. Tianjin is about 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) southeast of Beijing.

As was the case in Dalian, security was tight in Tianjin and Beijing in the morning. Trains from Dalian, Dandong and other cities bound for Beijing were delayed, and the Beijing South Station was closed to the public by police. Traffic was halted on the road connecting Tianjin and Beijing.

Kim, 68, is likely to have more meetings with Chinese officials today.

Kim and Hu have held three summit meetings so far and they last met in January 2006 in Beijing.

Kim was more visible in Dalian than in Beijing yesterday. He was photographed entering and leaving a downtown Dalian hotel. Kim was expected to reach Beijing by train by around 6 a.m. local time but instead made a surprise stop in Tianjin.

A diplomatic source speculated that Kim may have intentionally made himself more visible in Dalian than in Beijing.

“Kim was in Dalian to try to bolster China-North Korea economic cooperation and attract Chinese investment, and getting himself in the media could send a message that he cares about the North Korean economy,” the source said. Dalian is the logistical center of northeast China, which could serve as a development model for North Korea.

“But in Beijing,” the analyst said, “Kim would mostly deal with security issues, such as the six-party talks and even the Cheonan sinking [for which North Korea is a suspect]. He must have decided he’d be better off out of the spotlight.”

The Tianjin stop too appeared to be related to economic and investment interests. Tianjin is one of China’s largest cities and its port handled 310 million tons of cargo in 2007 to rank sixth among world’s ports. Tianjin is also home to major economic development zones called Binhai New Area and Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area. This was Kim’s first visit to Tianjin in six years.

Kim visited the Binhai area with the usual tight security. A highway connecting Tianjin and the Binhai district was closed off for three hours starting at 7 a.m. yesterday. The district is also home to dozens of South Korean companies, and South Korean business owners there complained some of their employees couldn’t arrive at work on time.

When Kim last visited Binhai in April 2004, it was still a startup. In the six years since, the Binhai New Area, spread over 2,270 square kilometers (560,930 acres), has emerged as a key economic zone and attracted investments from Motorola, Coca-Cola, Airbus and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics.

The Binhai New Area’s official Web site states that 85 Fortune 500 companies have set up bases in the district, and there are dozens of government engineering centers and corporate technology research and development centers.

North Korea is trying to develop its northern port of Rajin and granted China access to a dock for the next decade. China expected the move to help its underdeveloped northeast provinces grow, and North Korea counted on reaping economic benefits, too.

Analysts have suggested that on Kim’s trip, China, North Korea’s main ally, would provide much-needed economic assistance to North Korea, and the North, in exchange, would return to the six-party talks.

South Korea has maintained there will be no six-party talks before the completion of the Cheonan probe. A high-ranking South Korean Foreign Ministry official said yesterday there’s no change to that stance.

“Depending on the result of the investigation, we may have to take some action,” the official said. “We have to find out who was responsible. And China fully understands where we come from.”

South Korea has expressed its disappointment in China’s receiving Kim just three days after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s summit with Hu. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu was noncommittal when asked if China would support South Korea at the Security Council if the North is found responsible for the Cheonan sinking.

“Given the ongoing investigation and pending result, I could not answer this hypothetical question,” Jiang said.

By Yoo Jee-ho []

Related Korean Article

복기해 본 MB 4월 30일 방중 외교

“경제무대가 아닌 안보무대에서 이명박 대통령의 진짜 외교실력이 시험대에 올랐다.”

이 대통령의 중국 상하이 방문(4월 30일~5월 1일) 이후 정부 안팎에서 나오는 얘기다. 이 대통령은 천안함 침몰이란 무거운 짐을 지고 상하이에 도착했다. 그가 한·중 정상회담을 앞두고 준비한 화두는 2008년 5월 체결된 양국 간 ‘전략적 협력 동반자’ 관계였다. 정치·안보 등 모든 분야에 걸친 진정한 동반자라는 의미로, 우리로선 미국과 맺은 ‘포괄적 전략적 동맹관계’ 다음으로 중요한 관계다.

이 대통령은 지난달 30일 후진타오 주석과 정상회담을 하기 전 북한 김정일 국방위원장의 방중 임박 기류를 알고 있었다고 한다. 청와대 고위 관계자는 5일 “이 대통령이 김 위원장의 방중 징후와 관련해 정상회담에서 문제를 제기하며 우리 측의 우려를 전할까 하는 고민을 하다 참았다”며 “민감한 문제를 꺼내기보다는 나중에 한국 정부가 이 사실을 알고 있었다는 점이 자연스럽게 알려져 중국 정부가 한국에 ‘마음의 빚’을 느끼게 하는 편이 낫다고 판단해 결국 거론하지 않았다”고 밝혔다. 회담에서 천안함 문제가 무게감 있게 다뤄지지 않은 건 이 때문이라고 한다.

  • 한글 기사 보기

  • Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now