May 10, 2010 13:55
North Korea's state-run media on Saturday issued a belated report on Kim Jong-il's visit to China and meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao last week.
◆ Sanitized Statements
At first glance, the North Korean report is no different than the version of China's official Xinhua News Agency on Friday, but it makes no mention of Hu saying he wished to "bolster strategic communication about diplomatic matters and internal affairs" nor of Premier Wen Jiabao saying he wished to "introduce China's experience in market-opening measures."
Instead, the North Korean media says that "each side agreed to inform the other side of the situation in their own countries" and "China explained its economic development model."
Xinhua reported that Hu proposed exchange of dialogue between senior officials, strategic communication about internal affairs and diplomatic issues, economic cooperation, sports and cultural exchange programs and cooperation for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
"The most important principle of Chinese politics is to stay out of the internal affairs of another country," said Kim Heung-kyu, a North Korea expert at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. "Using terms such as strategic communication involving matters of internal concern is tantamount to saying it wants to intervene in North Korea's government."
◆ No Mention of Aid
Kim was in desperate need of economic aid from China. When he visited China in 2004, the official Rodong Sinmun daily reported, "China offered free economic aid, but Comrade Kim Jong-il declined." In 2006, the daily reported that Kim offered gratitude for the "selfless support and aid being given." But this time neither China nor North Korea used the term "free aid."
This time Wen told Kim that he supports the improvement in the lives of North Koreans, according to Xinhua, which suggests Kim did not return home empty-handed. But Park Byung-gwang, a North Korea watcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy, said, "It does not appear to be an amount worthy of publicizing to the North Korean public."
Since Wen pledged US$20 million in aid to North Korea when he visited in October, the aid this time may be equivalent to 100,000 tons of rice worth $60 million, according to a South Korean government official.
◆ Mission Half Accomplished
Kim won some major concessions during his last trip. First of all, he visited Beijing just three days after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with Hu. This was a clear indication of the importance Beijing places on its "blood ties" with North Korea, rather than the "strategic partnership" with South Korea. China is likely to take a cautious stance until there is clear evidence linking North Korea to the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan.
China signaled that it does not mind the power in North Korea passing from Kim to his son Jong-un. The Rodong Sinmun quoted Hu as saying that it is the "historical responsibility" of both China and the North to hand down the friendship between the two countries to future generations.
A South Korean security official said, "Thanks to his visit to China, Kim Jong-il was able to avoid becoming an international outcast due to the sinking of the Cheonan, but he probably realized that his long-time benefactor China was going to want to intervene." Lee Jo-won of Chungang University, said, "It would have been better for North Korea to pressure South Korea for aid, since he went over to China and ended up with the prospect of having to share the management of his country's internal affairs."
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