June 17, 2010 09:25
North Korea asked China to provide it with the latest J-10 fighter jets and other hardware but was rejected, it emerged Wednesday.
According to a high-ranking source in the North, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made the request to Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited China in early May. But Hu apparently told Kim that China will protect and support him if attacked.
Observers guess this is the reason why Kim left a day earlier than scheduled.
One North Korean defector who used to be a high-ranking official said, "Kim is increasingly afraid of an attack by South Korean and U.S. forces" following the North's sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette in March. The North Korean leader therefore wanted to get his hands on the latest Chinese fighter jets to counter South Korea's F-15 and F-16 fighter planes.
"Kim wouldn't have visited China with such a large entourage if he merely wanted economic assistance," the defector said. Another North Korean defector and former soldier said Pyongyang may have bolstered its so-called asymmetric warfare capabilities by strengthening special forces "but still lags behind South Korea in terms of naval and air force capabilities and feels threatened."
There is speculation that North Korea is forced to lean on China because it does not have the money to buy expensive Sukhoi fighters from Russia.
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