May 26, 2011
| A stretch limousine believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il drives in a convoy toward the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, yesterday, possibly for a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. [AP /YONHAP]
BEIJING - On the sixth day of his visit to China, Kim Jong-il reached Beijing for meetings with Chinese leaders, possibly including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
The North Korean leader made a U-turn late on the fifth day of his trip, departing from Nanjing in his heavily guarded 25-car train and entering the Chinese capital around 9 a.m. yesterday local time, according to witnesses and media on the scene, including the JoongAng Ilbo.
Kim Jong-il was driven to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in a heavily guarded motorcade down Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue. The guesthouse is often used as the temporary home for visiting foreign dignitaries.
Wen was seen by the JoongAng Ilbo entering the guesthouse compound in a minivan at 11:22 a.m., signaling that a meeting was imminent.
Around 5 p.m., Kim was seen entering the Great Hall of the People, where Kim has held summits with Hu in the past. After a meeting with Hu, Kim was expected to attend a dinner banquet.
The North Korean and Chinese governments did not confirm whether Kim met Wen or Hu.
According to diplomatic officials in China, Kim was able to secure political and economic support from China, winning a “grand bargain” from its biggest and closest ally. Kim also discussed the six-party talks on North Korean denuclearization with high-ranking Chinese officials, a diplomatic source in Beijing told the JoongAng Ilbo.
“There is a high chance that the stance of North Korea and China on the six-party talks was made clear,” said the source.
China has shown support for a three-tier plan that starts with bilateral talks between both Koreas, then talks between North Korea and the U.S. and then the resumption of the long-stalled six-party negotiations.
Kim’s visit so far has focused on economic areas, including factories and business headquarters, and it’s likely he will wrap up his China tour with several similar stops.
Kim is also expected to take a detour to Dandong, Liaoning Province, from May 26 to May 28. The JoongAng Ilbo found reservations for his party at two hotels.
From there, Kim is expected to visit the Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone in North Korea’s far northeast, which is run directly by his central government. The economic zone was set up to attract investment from foreign companies, mostly from China. The area received $2 billion in investment from a Chinese company early this year.
The area, also called Rason, was recently revealed to be part of a development plan with an island in the Yalu River called Hwanggumpyong. North Korea and China are expected to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the zone on May 28.