North Korean leader meets Chinese senior official, fetes Chinese art troupe


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heads a party meeting in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang April 9, 2018. KCNA/via Reuters

Reuters Staff April 15, 2018

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Chinese senior diplomat Song Tao and feted a Chinese art troupe led by Song, North Korean state media said on Sunday, indicating closer ties with China after Kim’s surprise visit to Beijing last month.

The North Korean leader on Saturday “warmly” greeted Song Tao and the Chinese delegation visiting Pyongyang to perform and also expressed his greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping after Song conveyed Xi’s greetings to Kim, the North’s official Korea Central News Agency said.

“He said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China,” the KCNA said.

In late March Kim made a rare visit to Beijing and met Xi, Kim’s first known journey abroad since he took power in 2011.

Footage broadcast on Chinese state television on Sunday evening showed Kim greeting Song with a warm hug and the pair later dining in a large hall adorned with a giant picture of Kim and Xi together last month.

Song told Kim that he intended his visit to help to advance the two leaders’ consensus in developing this “new phase” of bilateral relations and in making contributions toward safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, according to the television report.

The Chinese art troupe, led by Song, the head of the Communist Party’s International Department, left for North Korea on Friday for an April Spring Friendship Art Festival.

The troupe performed on Saturday at the Mansudae Art Theatre, and North Korean leader Kim’s wife Ri Sol Ju watched a ballet, “Giselle”, performed by the National Ballet of China, but Kim was not present, the KCNA said.

North Korea’s ties with China, its sole ally, had become strained over the past couple of years over the North’s contentious missile and nuclear tests.

Song and Kim also exchanged their views on deepening bilateral relations, the KCNA said, with Kim saying he would develop their friendship into a “fresh phase of development”.

Reporting By Jane Chung; Additional reporting by Philip Wen in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Goodman

Source: Reuters “North Korean leader meets Chinese senior official, fetes Chinese art troupe”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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North Korea’s Kim Successful with First-Lady Diplomacy?


FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju pose for a picture with Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China in this picture released to Reuters on March 28, 2018. Ju Peng/Xinhua via REUTERS

Ri in another outfit. SCMP photo

Ri in a third outfit. SCMP photo

The above are photos of the three outfits for North Korean leader Kim Jung-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju when she accompanies Kim in his Beijing visit. SCMP says, “North Korea’s first lady has become an instant hit in China with her fashionable looks after accompanying her husband Kim Jong-un in a surprise visit to China” in its report “Kim Jong-un wife’s fashion sense a hit with China’s public” yesterday.

In the report, SCMP says that some Chinese web users “compared Ri’s look with that of South Korean celebrities, saying she was ‘as pretty as Song Hye-kyo’, a popular actress in China”.

Song was chosen as one of the 100 beautiful faces in the world 7 times from 2000 to 2016 with the highest ranking of the 5th.

We post Song’s photo below:

Song Hye Kyo. Wikipedia photo

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report.


North Korea’s Kim seen building global status in trip to China


FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju pose for a picture with Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China in this picture released to Reuters on March 28, 2018. Ju Peng/Xinhua via REUTERS

Christine Kim, Ben Blanchard March 28, 2018

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – Accompanied by his wife, greeted by honor guards, and entertained at banquets, Kim Jong Un made his international debut as North Korea’s leader by being wined and dined in the capital of the world’s most populous country.

Kim’s “unofficial” visit to China this week marks his first known trip outside the North since taking power in late 2011, and it helped burnish the image he has recently been cultivating as a leader who has to be shown respect by the world’s most powerful.

Despite recent chilly relations between the neighbors, Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out an actual red carpet for Kim, who arrived from Pyongyang in a 21-car bulletproof train.

“Just look at Kim’s big smile on his face while he’s shaking hands with Xi,” said Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean studies at South Korea’s Dongguk University. “Although it was Kim’s first trip outside North Korea since he took power, he looked quite confident, posing himself as a world player equal to China’s Xi.”

The surprise visit to Beijing comes as Kim has launched a diplomatic offensive, proposing upcoming summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump.

LAVISH RECEPTION

In line with the previous three visits by Kim’s father to China, the Chinese government described the trip as unofficial, with no North Korean flags hung around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square as happens with state visits.

But Chinese state television gave similar coverage to Kim’s meetings with Xi as they did to Xi’s meetings with Trump last year, with an unusually long 14-minute report of what Xi and Kim discussed and where and how they met, though the initial secrecy of the trip meant no live coverage of the welcome ceremony.

The images showed the two men chatting in a friendly way, and Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan also greeting Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju. Kim and Ri were shown waving out of a window as their car drew away.

In making the trip to Beijing in the customized train, Kim sought to highlight his place as the heir to his father Kim Jong Il, said Aidan Foster-Carter, an honorary senior research fellow at Britain’s Leeds University. His father had also gone to China by train on his visits.

“Ordinary mortals just take the plane,” he said. “The train sets the precedent of following in daddy’s footsteps.”

But by making his wife a key figure in the Beijing trip, Kim parted from his father’s behavior and mirrored the ways of today’s modern country leaders.

Kim Jong Il had never been seen abroad with any of his wives, though he was believed to have been accompanied by the woman suspected of being his fourth wife on visits to China and Russia, yet it was never announced officially.

“Unlike his father, Kim Jong Un presented Ri Sol Ju as first lady of North Korea, emphasizing her status and portraying his image as a normal leader,” said Dongkuk University’s Kim. “It appears to be a well-calculated tactic that would help turn Kim’s hostile and unfavorable image to a gentle and sane one.”

LEGITIMACY AT HOME AND ABROAD

As the leader of a country often called reclusive and strange, Kim is also much younger than many world leaders, a difference that gets additional resonance in Asia, where respectful deference to elders is widely upheld.

Estimated to be 34, Kim is decades younger than 64-year-old Xi, 65-year-old Moon, and Trump, who is 71.

Frosty relations between Beijing and Pyongyang since Kim took office had seen state-to-state relations deteriorate, but the two sides have always maintained party-to-party ceremonies and traditions, such as sending envoys to share the outcomes of key party meetings, according to diplomats.

Kim officially cast his visit in the same light, saying he felt obligated to come congratulate Xi in person on his recent re-appointment as president, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s account of the trip.

China’s most senior party diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, attended the main meeting between Xi and Kim, along with Wang Huning, the party’s top theoretician. The government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, was also there, though at the far end of the table.

From the North, Kim Jong Un brought with him the country’s most high-profile officials, including vice chairman of the Workers’ Party Central Committee Choe Ryong Hae, Politburo member Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, and Kim Yong Chol, a former intelligence chief who now handles inter-Korean affairs.

Taking nearly all of his closest aides highlights the confidence he may be feeling now that he has secured his position, showing that he doesn’t fear there could be a coup against him during his time away, said Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

“We saw many high-ranking officials with Kim, but almost none from the military. One could worry about a military coup, but the fact that he made this trip as he did shows he’s completely in charge of the military as well as all of North Korea’s internal networks,” Yang said.

Reporting by Christine Kim and Heekyong Yang in SEOUL and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Josh Smith and Martin Howell

Source: Reuters “North Korea’s Kim seen building global status in trip to China”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China’s Xi affirms friendship with North Korean leader, gets denuclearization pledge


Ben Blanchard, Joyce Lee March 27, 2018

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – China said on Wednesday it won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during a meeting with President Xi Jinping, who pledged in return that China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbour.

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what the official Xinhua news agency called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

The trip was Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough U.N. sanctions in response.

Xinhua cited Kim as telling Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula is starting to improve because North Korea has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to Xinhua.

North Korea is willing to talk with the United States and hold a summit between the two countries, he said.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace,” Kim said.

Xi told Kim in return that both sides had stated repeatedly that their traditional friendship should be passed on and developed better.

“This is a strategic choice and the only right choice both sides have made based on history and reality, the international and regional structure and the general situation of China-North Korea ties. This should not and will not change because of any single event at a particular time,” Xi said.

Xinhua published a photograph of Kim and Xi shaking hands in front of the flags of the two nations.

Speculation about a possible visit by Kim to Beijing was rife earlier this week after a train similar to the one used by Kim’s father was seen in the Chinese capital, along with heavy security and a large motorcade.

Kim was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, Xinhua said.

Xi had accepted an invitation from Kim to visit North Korea, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.

Improving ties between North Korea and China would be a positive sign before planned summits involving the two Koreas and the United States, a senior South Korean official said on Tuesday.

Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, met then-president Jiang Zemin in China in 2000 before a summit between the two Koreas in June that year. That visit was seen at the time as reaffirmation of close ties with Beijing.

Additional reporting by David Stanway in SHANGHAI; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul Tait

Source: Reuters “China’s Xi affirms friendship with North Korean leader, gets denuclearization pledge”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


North Korea leader Kim Jong Un visits China: Bloomberg


Policemen take position along Beijing’s main east-west thoroughfare, Changan Avenue, near the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Policemen take position along Beijing’s main east-west thoroughfare, Changan Avenue, near the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Ben Blanchard March 26, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has visited China, Bloomberg reported on Monday citing three unnamed sources, in what would be his first known overseas trip since taking power in 2011 and ahead of a potential summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Details of his visit including its purpose and itinerary were not yet known, Bloomberg said. Japanese media reported earlier on Monday that a high-ranking Pyongyang official appeared to have arrived by train in Beijing.

Kyodo, citing sources close to the matter, said the visit of the official was intended to improve ties between Beijing and Pyongyang that have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations Security Council.

The visit could not immediately be confirmed by Reuters.

Footage from Nippon News Network, owned by Nippon TV, showed what an announcer described as a green train carriage with yellow horizontal lines, part of a 21-car train, similar to the kind that Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, rode when he visited Beijing in 2011.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive and isolated North Korea. But Kim is due to hold summit meetings separately with China’s rivals, South Korea and the United States.

“Such a visit would reflect China’s effort to get back in the game,” said Scott Snyder, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank. “Xi would not tolerate being third in line to meet Kim.”

Asked earlier at a daily news briefing about reports of an important North Korean visitor arriving at the Chinese border city of Dandong, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was unaware of the situation.

Nobody answered the telephone at the North Korean embassy in Beijing on Monday evening.

“The government is closely communicating with relevant countries and monitoring the situation,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement via a messaging app earlier on Monday.

Asked about the report that Kim was in China, White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters on Monday: “We can’t confirm those reports. We don’t know if they’re necessarily true.”

Kyodo, citing sources, reported that on Sunday, a special train that might have carried the official passed through Dandong. Two sources in northeastern China also told Reuters that a North Korean visitor had crossed into Dandong by train.

The rail journey between Dandong and Beijing covers more than 1,100 km (680 miles). It takes at least 14 hours by ordinary service, according to Chinese railway timetables.

HEAVY SECURITY

On Chinese social media some residents of Dandong said there had been high security around the train station there and said there were rumors that Kim was passing through.

Police tightened security along Beijing’s main east-west thoroughfare, Changan Avenue, mid-afternoon Monday, closing off the entrances to some of the buildings which face the road.

Police also cleared out all tourists from Tiananmen Square around the same time, which normally only happens when important meetings are happening in the Great Hall of the People, where top Chinese leaders often meet visiting heads of state.

There was a large security presence outside the Great Hall on Monday evening. Reuters reporters saw a lengthy motorcade, including a limousine with dark tinted windows, heading down Changan Avenue in the direction of the Diaoyutai State Guest House and away from the Great Hall of the People, flanked by a police escort on motor-bikes.

Also on Monday evening, the Beijing railway bureau warned on its microblog, without giving a reason, of multiple train delays of up to two hours in the Beijing region.

A source with ties to the Chinese military told Reuters that it was “not possible to rule out the possibility” that Kim was visiting Beijing, but cautioned this was not confirmed.

A diplomatic source told Reuters that there was heavy security around the Diaoyutai State Guest House, where some high level foreign visitors stay during visits to the city. Other diplomatic sources said they were aware of the speculation that Kim was visiting but were not able to immediately confirm it.

Visits to China by Kim Jong Il were only confirmed by both China and North Korea once he had left the country.

Kim Jong Il traveled by private train during his rare visits to China or Russia under tight security. Diplomats and other sources have said Kim Jong Il avoided flying for overseas trips due to security concerns.

The younger Kim, who was educated in Switzerland, is not known to have any fear of flying and state media have shown pictures of him aboard a plane. However, he is not known to have traveled outside the country since assuming power in late 2011 after his father’s death.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Sue-Lin Wong, Philip Wen and Se Young Lee; Additional reporting by Christine Kim in Seoul, Malcolm Foster in Tokyo, Roberta Rampton, David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Tom Brown

Source: Reuters “North Korea leader Kim Jong Un visits China: Bloomberg”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Here Comes China’s Chance to Set North Korean Model


In my post “North Korean Refugees in China” yesterday, I said:

However, Kim still has to conduct the reform and opening-up similar to China. As he has made efforts to establish his powerbase for years, he now must have the power to overcome the resistance to reform from conservatives so that there is hope for China to resume its work to set a North Korean model by helping Kim conduct reform, put an end to the famine and improve North Korean economy.

Some conservative US China watchers have sensed possible Change in China’s attitude towards North Korea. Washington Free Beacon carried an article titled “Secret Document Reveals China Covertly Offering Missiles, Increased Aid to North Korea” on a so-called top secret document of the Office of CCP Central Committee on providing economic and military aids to North Korea in order to pit Trump administration against China.

The writer of the article knows it is hard to make people believe the possibility to obtain Chinese Central authorities’ classified document. However, he is perhaps confident that what China will do related to North Korean in the future will prove the authenticity of the document though he has no evidence to prove the authenticity of the document.

Western China watchers are strong in making analysis of possible development but lack the language skill or knowledge about Chinese official documents to judge the authenticity of the document.

The writer believed the document is authentic, but he should certainly have known that central documents are always well written, there may not be the blunder of using “军事对持”for “军事对峙” in the document. Lack of language skill and historical knowledge is common among US China watchers as Chinese language is really difficult and Chinese history is too long and too well recorded in classic Chinese difficult to read. Perhaps as they prefer reading the translation to the Chinese original they fail to find that the “no.” on the fake document is not used in Central document or notice QR code required on Chinese official documents is conspicuously missing.

However, the writer is correct in his analysis of North Korea’s importance as a buffer for China, China’s fear of Kim Dynasty’s collapse and China’s support for North Korea if the US attacks it.

Now, it is the best time for China to set its North Korean model as Kim Jong-un must be realistic to see that he cannot feed his people with nuclear warheads or missiles. Since he has got the weapons he wants, he has to switch his focus onto economy to satisfy people’s demards for food and better living standards. Otherwise his Kim Dynasty will lose popular support and collapse. In order to attain that goal, Kim has to follow China’s model of reform and opening-up, for which China’s support is indispensable.

Turning poor and backward North Korea notorious of its famine into a rich and prosperous small nation will have sensational impact on the world. That is much more important for China as like China, North Korea is a socialist country. If notorious socialist North Korea can become rich and prosperous through the reform and opening-up similar to China’s, it will prove China’s success in restoring the greatness of socialism. Vietnam and Cuba will follow suite so that China will not be a lonely socialist country. It will be the leader of a group of four and perhaps more as other developing countries may follow North Korean model.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Washington Free Beacon’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://freebeacon.com/national-security/secret-document-reveals-china-covertly-offering-missiles-increased-aid-north-korea/?utm_source=Freedom+Mail&utm_campaign=258d6bba73-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b5e6e0e9ea-258d6bba73-46069085.


North Korean Refugees in China


North Korean People’s Misery
On September 9, SCMP describes the hardship North Korean refugees suffer in China in its report “Trafficked North Korean ‘bride’ reveals her desperate flight from China” (full text of the report can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2110256/trafficked-north-korea-bride-one-woman-reveals-her).

The report says, “According to Reuters, 385 North Koreans made the journey (to Thailand) in the first half of the year, compared with 535 last year.”

That was really quite a small number. At the beginning of this century, I often worked in Qingdao where there were quite a few North Korean immigrants. According to their gossips, there were at that time 200,000 to 300,000 North Korean immigrants in China. The exact number is a mystery as there was no official figure and lots of such immigrants were able to be registered as Chinese residents due to their Chinese origin, sympathy of Chinese rural officials, bribes, etc. According to some immigrants I met at that time, all their classmates back in North Korea had moved to China. If so, the number of immigrants must be enormous.

There were over 2 million people of Korean ethnic minority in China, but lots of North Korean immigrants had registered as ethnic Han (the major race in China) instead of minority ethnic Korean. They spoke perfect Chinese and Korean languages. When asked whether they were Chinese or Koreans, they said that they were not clear themselves. Anyway, they preferred being Chinese and liked the freedom and better living standards in China at that time.

According to them, at the beginning of this century, crossing the border to immigrate to China was not difficult especially in winter when border rivers were frozen. If they dressed like Chinese people and spoke Chinese language well, no one would suspect that they were illegal immigrants. That was perhaps due to the good relations between China and North Korea at that time.

They said that lots of Chinese crossed the border to live with their North Korean relatives and friends when there was serious famine from 1959 to 1962 in China; therefore, it was only natural for North Koreans to cross the border to live with their Chinese relatives and friends when there was famine in North Korea.

However, things are different now, the starvation in North Korea may drive a flood of North Korean refugees into China that China is not able to accept as China has too large a population; therefore, China has tightened border control and will repatriate all illegal immigrants from North Korea. Moreover, it is difficult for illegal North Korean immigrants to find jobs in China as North Korea is now exporting labor to China through official channels.

North Korea’s Export of Labor to China
Hong Kong’s Singtao Daily said in its report in early August 2012 that news about North Korea’s export of 120,000 workers to China appeared for the first time on Chinese Mainland media. The first part of them, about 30 in number, had already worked for nearly 6 months in a hotel at Jiansu’s Huaxi Village, one of the the richest villages in China at that time. They were mostly college graduates aged 20-odd, working in service trade with major job responsibilities of singing and dancing. Their monthly salary of about 6,000 yuan (about US$900) was paid by their employer directly to North Korean government.” They themselves only get 150 yuan (more than US$20) pocket money a day. According to reports, they provide wonderful singing and dancing services but live a dull and mythic life.

A person responsible for propaganda in Huaxi Village confirmed that those girls were North Korea’s export of laborers to China. It was inappropriate to reveal their number and North Korea required that no photographs or video recording should be taken of nor press interview be made with them.

Those North Korean girls were but the first batch of the large number of exported laborers. According to South Korean media, North Korea would send 120,000 workers to work in Dandong, Tumen and other areas in China. China had already made a plan to received lots of North Korean laborers.

The North Korean girls’ major jobs were singing and dancing performance, but they also served as waitresses when they do not give performance. They sang Korean and Chinese songs well with good voice comparable with hot Chinese and Korean stars.

The hotel and its customers were well satisfied with their services. Compared with rural girls employed from Anhui and other places, they were much better in their style of conversation, manners and appearance. According to the hotel, North Korean girls had made the hotel more attractive. Due to the reputation of their songs and dances, quite a few rich people came to enjoy their exotic performance. Local people also wanted those girls’ services when they hold wedding banquets.

Those girls were lucky ones in North Korea, but I wonder whether they would be able to remain in China now when China imposes UN sanctions against North Korea. One thing is very clear, in the confrontation between North Korea and the US, it is the North Korean people who suffer. Their leader Kim Jung-un uses most of their country’s meager resources in developing attacking weapons to threaten South Korea, Japan and the United States with the lie of ensuring North Korean people’s security. Kim knows well that there is no danger whatsoever of US attack of North Korea as neither China nor Russia will allow the US to take North Korea and change regional geopolitical balance.

Anyway, his trick works well for the survival of his Dynasty. However, when North Korean people have had security with nuclear weapons, they want food for their survival and improvement of their living standards. Kim Jong-un is well aware of that; therefore, as soon as he has obtained the weapons he wants, he begins to seek détente with South Korea and has offered to send a team to participate Winter Olympics in Peongchang. Due to kinship South Korea is most willing to help North Korea overcome its famine.

However, Kim still has to conduct the reform and opening-up similar to China. As he has made efforts to establish his powerbase for years, he now must have the power to overcome the resistance to reform from conservatives so that there is hope for China to resume its work to set a North Korean model.

Article by Chan Kai Yee