A year after Cheonan, North and China bond

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A year after Cheonan, North and China bond

North Korea’s ambassador to Beijing met with a high-ranking Chinese official one day before the first anniversary of the Cheonan sinking, which took place on March 26, 2010, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, entertained North Korea’s envoy to China, Ji Jae-ryong, last Friday to discuss strengthening “tactical communication” between the two countries through more exchanges of high-ranking personnel, KCNA reported.

“The friendship between China and North Korea is a special joint asset that has endlessly strengthened, developed and triumphed against changes in international situations,” Jia told Ji, according to the news agency, which reported the meeting three days after it took place.

Jia is known to be the fourth most powerful figure in China.

Ji was appointed to his current position last October, succeeding Choe Pyong-gwan.

“Last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China twice and met with President Hu Jintao,” Jia was cited as saying by the news agency. “There were many great changes
and joyful events between the two countries as the two were able to match views on many important issues, including the development of the friendly ties between the North and China.

“It is the [Chinese Communist] Party and government’s consistent policy to endlessly solidify and [build] better relations between the two countries,” Jia said, according to KCNA.

Jia was also quoted as saying that ties between North Korea and China were “maintaining an excellent course.”

Although the report did not mention Kim Jong-il’s heir apparent and third son Kim Jong-un, analysts have said Ji’s meeting with Jia was to pave the way for a visit by Jong-un to China, which is expected to take place sometime soon.

KCNA reported on March 18 that North Korea’s 12th Supreme People’s Assembly would be taking place on April 7. Some analysts said Kim Jong-un is expected to acquire a high-ranking post at the meeting and will soon visit China.

A high-ranking South Korean government source familiar with diplomatic affairs told the JoongAng Ilbo last Thursday that there was a high possibility that the youngest son would make a trip to China around Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15.

“It is my understanding that Kim Jong-un will make the trip by plane,” said the source, noting that his father Kim Jong-il insists on traveling by train for safety reasons. If he visits China, it will be Jong-un’s first solo international foray since taking his position in North Korea’s powerful Workers’ Party last September. It is still unclear whether Kim Jong-un accompanied his father on his last trip to China last August.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[연합]
자칭린 “中朝 고위급 왕래로 의사소통 강화”

지재룡 주중 北대사 접견
자칭린(賈慶林) 중국 전국인민정치협상회의(정협·政協) 주석이 25일 지재룡 주중 북한 특명전권대사를 접견, 북한과 고위급 인사 교류 증진을 통한 전략적 의사소통을 강화하겠다고 말했다고 조선중앙통신이 28일 보도했다.

중국공산당 권력서열 4위인 자 주석은 지 대사에게 "중국과 북한 간 친선은 국제정세 변화의 시련을 이겨내고 끊임없이 강화·발전돼온 공동의 귀중한 자산"이라고 평가하면서 이렇게 말했다.

자 주석은 "지난해 김정일 국방위원장이 두 차례 방중해 후진타오(胡錦濤) 국가주석과 회동하고 중조 친선관계 발전을 비롯한 중요 문제들에 같은 견해를 갖게 돼 양국 간에는 큰 변화와 기쁜 일들이 많았다"며 "중조친선 관계를 끊임없이 공고 발전시키는 것은 중국 당과 정부의 일관된 방침"이라고 말했다.

자 주석은 또 "올해 들어서도 중조(中朝)관계는 훌륭한 추세를 유지하고 있다"며 양국의 고위급 내왕과 전략적 의사소통을 강화하고 경제무역관계 확대 용의를 피력했다고 중앙통신은 전했다.

통신은 그러나 자 주석이 방중 임박설이 나도는 북한의 후계자 김정은에 대해 언급했는지는 밝히지 않았다.
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