Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Kim Cho’ng-il’s trip to the PRC continued into its fifth day. On Tuesday [24 May], Kim Cho’ng-il visited Nanjing for several hours which included a tour of an electronic industry factory. Yonhap, via Korea Herald, reports:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il departed the eastern city of Nanjing on Tuesday by train after touring a top electronics company on a trip in which he apparently hopes to learn about China’s vibrant economy.
Kim appears to be heading toward China’s northwest, though his next destination remains unclear.
Earlier on Tuesday, he arrived in Nanjing in a convoy of some 40 cars with an armed police escort from Yangzhou and visited Nanjing Panda Electronics Co., which makes mobile phones, television sets and other electronics goods.
Kim has made his third trip to China, the North’s last remaining ally and benefactor, in just over a year at Beijing’s invitation to learn about China’s economic reforms to help revive the North’s faltering economy.
KBS World reports about Kim Cho’ng-il’s departure from Nanjing, and his next, possible destination:
Local sources said Tuesday that a special train carrying Kim departed Nanjing at around 3:30 p.m. towards Beijing, not Shanghai.
If Kim’s destination is Beijing, he is expected to arrive in the capital city by Wednesday morning and have a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Dong-a Ilbo reports about Kim Cho’ng-il’s visit to Yangzhou:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il`s tour of Yangzhou in China`s Jiangsu Province Monday afternoon put the Chinese city in a virtual state of martial law.
He toured a high-tech energy company in Yangzhou in the morning and a nearby shopping mall in the afternoon on the fourth day of his China visit.
The city`s Hanjiang Economic Development District that Kim visited comprises the five major industries of metallic sheet, electricity and electronics, bioengineering and medicine, renewable energy and software.
The North`s leader departed from his hotel around 9 a.m., visited Jingao Solar Energy in the district, and returned to the hotel in two hours.
He toured the district under tight security. When he left his hotel, his car was followed by a parade of more than 40 vehicles as his visit was conducted virtually in secrecy.
When Kim visited a nearby shopping mall just a one-minute drive from his hotel in the afternoon, his car was escorted by the same number of cars.
Visiting the mall for about 30 minutes, he stopped by edible oil and rice shops on the second floor and tried to smell rice. Store owners said Kim expressed interest in the types of products and prices.
His 100-member entourage at the mall was guided by Yangzhou Mayor Wang Yan Wen. Afterwards, Kim visited a dairy product store and vegetable and fruit sellers amid restricted customer access to the mall.
Chosun Ilbo has detailed report about what separates this KCI PRC trip from others:
It is the first time Kim has visited China’s three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang and the southern industrial region at the same time. Previously Kim made separate trips to southern cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2001 and 2006 and to the three northeastern provinces in May and August last year. The three northeastern provinces are rich in natural resources and considered the least developed in the country, and Beijing is keen to develop them.
China is apparently interested in using North Korea’s Rajin-Sonbong port to ship resources, grain and timber more swiftly and cheaply from north to south. “It takes just a third of the costs to transport goods by ship from Rajin-Sonbong than it takes to move them by train,” said Cho Bong-hyun, a researcher at IBK Economic Research Institute.
In December last year, China conducted a trial run by shipping 500 truckloads of coal from Jilin to Shanghai via the port, and Beijing has apparently won the rights to use the North Korean port, which serves as a gateway to the East Sea.
China and North Korea are also apparently going to hold a ground-breaking ceremony at the end of this month for a highway linking China’s Hunchun and Rajin-Sonbong.
With the visit, “Kim Jong Il seems to be stressing the message that investing in Rajin-Sonbong and North Korea could enable China to link the three resource-rich northeastern provinces with the southern industrial region,” said Cho Young-ki, a North Korea expert at Korea University.
If the maritime route comes into operation, it would effectively encircle South Korea. There is speculation that Kim Jong Il will attend another ground-breaking ceremony for a project to develop an industrial complex on Hwanggumpyong Island in the Apnok or Yalu River on his way back from China. “The maritime route could transport more than just materials,” a diplomatic source said. “We could even see Chinese naval forces patrolling the East Sea.” China and North Korea have apparently bolstered military ties since last year.