April 05, 2010 09:58
China's state-run media have taken to reporting North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's moves ahead of his visit to China, which appears to be imminent.
Diplomatic sources in Beijing speculate that the unprecedented attention is prompted by Kim's impending visit. Under an agreement with Pyongyang, China's media are banned from reporting his activities in China until he winds up his visit and returns to Pyongyang.
On Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency reported Kim hosted a dinner party on Saturday for new Chinese ambassador Liu Hongcai, Chinese diplomats and the visiting Tianjin Women's Volleyball Team.
Other North Koreans at the dinner included Kim Ki-nam and Choe Thae-bok, secretaries of the North Korean Workers Party's Central Committee; Kang Sok-chu, the first vice foreign minister; Kim Yang-gon, the director of the party's United Front Department; Kim Yong-il, the director of the party's International Affairs Department; Gen. Kim Jong-gak, the first vice director of the Army's General Political Department and member of the National Defense Commission; and Gens. Kim Won-hong, Hyon Chol-hae, and Pak Jae-kyong, Xinhua added. All of them are expected to accompany Kim Jong-il on his visit to China.
It is unprecedented for Xinhua to report news about North Korea the same day the events occur. It usually waits one or two days.
On the evening of April 1, Xinhua said Liu Hongcai, who will accompany Kim on his visit to China, invited Yang Hyong-sop, the vice president of the Presidium of the North's Supreme People's Assembly, and other North Korean officials to a dinner at the Chinese Embassy.
It also carried a photo of Kim Jong-il watching a performance by the Mansudae Art Troupe, which was held in Pyongyang on April 2, immediately after it received the photo from North Korea's official KCNA news agency the following day.
Kim will embark on a visit to China around Monday, the last day of the Qing Ming Festival holidays, experts speculated.
"Kim is expected to start his visit to China around Monday to return home before the SPA opens on April 9," a diplomatic source in Beijing said. "He'd have to delay his visit for a considerable time if he misses this window when all top Chinese leaders are in Beijing."
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