Beijing’s rebuff made Kim cut China trip shortBEIJING - China told North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during his recent visit that it will respect international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang and refused to provide extraordinary economic assistance, an informed source here told the JoongAng Ilbo.
According to the source, the Chinese government’s position prompted Kim to cut short his stay in China.
“At the luncheon between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Kim on May 6, the Chinese government informed the North that China will not provide aid outside the framework of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang,” the source said.
“After Beijing’s position was explained, Kim shortened his schedule in China.”
Kim’s trip in China lasted from May 2 to 7. Although sources said Kim was to attend the North Korean Pibada Opera Company’s performance of “A Dream of Red Mansions” with Chinese leaders on the evening of May 6, he canceled at the last minute and rushed home.
One month after North Korea’s second nuclear test in May 2009, UN Security Council members unanimously adopted Resolution 1874, approving sanctions on North Korea.
In addition to a trade embargo on weapons and financial restrictions, the resolution called for inspection of ships suspected of carrying banned arms and related materials. China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, also condemned the North for its nuclear test and approved the sanctions.
The sanctions ban any support to the North except for humanitarian aid, and the reclusive communist nation’s fragile economy has been hit severely by a food crisis and failed currency reform.
Kim was believed to have sought extraordinary support from China during his trip.
Despite the sanctions, China promised North Korea about $30 million worth of assistance when Premier Wen visited Pyongyang in October 2009, alarming Seoul that Beijing may not be fully committed to the resolution. The latest decision by China to reject Kim’s request, however, appeared to show growing frustration in Beijing over escalated tension on the peninsula.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun also published yesterday a similar report, quoting a South Korean government official.
The newspaper said Kim had shortened his itinerary by one day as an expression of displeasure.
“There is a possibility that China had raised the issues of Kim’s successor and policies of opening up the country and reform,” the source was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Then, Kim could have felt discontent.”
Observers here said Kim’s recent trip to China appeared to be a failure and North Korea must do more - internationally and domestically - to win China’s assistance.
“At least, both the sides seem quite stymied, and the visit highlights a distinctive rift between Beijing and Pyongyang,” Zhu Feng, professor at the Peking University’s School of International Studies and deputy director of Center for International and Strategic Studies at the university, wrote recently for the Asia Security Initiative of the MacArthur Foundation.
“Kim is very economically motivated to see the Chinese open their wallet,” he said. At the end of the day, he said, China didn’t defer to North Korea for the sake of it returning to six-party talks on the shutting of its nuclear weapons program. “Unfortunately, the standoff will continue,” he said.
By Chang Se-jeong, Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org]