Kim Jong il taking in Chinese economy

Speculation was rampant this week on the whereabouts of Kim jong il.  No one knew for sure really…First he was Beijing via his special train, then he was in Russia, others claimed it was Shanghai by air.  It turns out he was in southern China (by train). As usual, the “unofficial” trip, from January 10-18, and itinerary were made public just as Kim was to return home.(source)

According to the Washintgon Post:
Hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police swarmed in and around the opulent White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, putting up roadblocks leading to the hotel. In the early evening, two of the city’s most luxurious sightseeing ferries — “The Pearl of the Flower City” and “The Information Times,” named after a local paper — cruised slowly down the Pearl River, with Kim rumored to be aboard. Police cars lined roads on both sides of the river.

Where did he visit?
A Guangzhou branch of Sun Yat Sen Univeristy (source)
Yantian container port (source) (Guangzhou)
Wuhan and Yichang, Hubei province (source)
Beijing (source)
Three Gorges Dam (source)
High-tech factories and agricultural research institute (source)
Yantian Port (source)

What was the purpose? 
The visit has prompted speculation that China is advocating market reforms for Pyongyang and could also urge it to rejoin stalled nuclear negotiations. 

Mr Kim’s visit to the cradle of the Chinese boom could be a careful hint to the outside world that he is following Beijing’s lead, says the BBC’s Louisa Lim in Beijing. (source)

“There is a debate in North Korea as there was in China at one time about how far and how fast they should go,” said Chung Jae Ho, an international relations expert at Seoul National University. “But I think this is a signal that this is the right time for a new opening.”(source)

He said one possibility widely discussed among experts was that North Korea would try to create a capitalist-oriented trading zone on its western coast, near China, modeled at least loosely on Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.(source)

Kim also held meetings with President Hu Jintao and all other eight members of the governing Politburo Standing Committee as well as tours of two Chinese provinces.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, made an unscheduled trip to Beijing and met with his North Korean counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, in a session hosted by the Chinese, diplomats said. (source)

Kim Quote:
“The progress made in the southern part of China, which has undergone a rapid change, and the stirring reality of China deeply impressed us”


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