August 31, 2010 12:45
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's latest visit to China seems to have been arranged hastily at an abrupt request from Pyongyang, a diplomatic source in Beijing said commenting on Kim's secretive five-day tour that ended on Monday.
Chinese President Hu Jintao went to meet Kim in Changchun, Jilin Province, instead of Beijing, but their summit was much less carefully prepared than previous ones, the source added.
Diplomats circles in Beijing note that Kim did not meet most of the members of the Politburo leadership. During his last visit in May he met most of them including Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing. At the time Li Keqiang, a member of the Presidium of the Politburo and vice premier, went so far as to fly to Dalian, Liaoning Province to welcome him.
During Kim's latest visit, China appears to have accorded him unprecedentedly warm hospitality, with Hu staying at the same hotel as Kim after their summit on Saturday and regional Chinese leaders throwing a dinner party. But there is speculation that Kim's talks with Hu were not substantial.
Sources in China said the two leaders exchanged views about the resumption of the six-party nuclear talks, but while they may have put on a show of unity, it is unlikely the talks produced anything substantially new.
When he visited China in May, Kim was said to have abruptly canceled a plan to watch a performance of the Chinese classic "Dream of the Red Mansion" and returned home after his request for huge amounts of aid was rejected. Last week's visit may have given him a chance to make up.
But Kim seemed to give priority to a kind of pilgrimage to historic sites related to his father Kim Il-sung's activities during his five-day stay in China. That seems to have been part of establishing his son's legitimacy as his heir, ahead of an extraordinary congress of the North Korean Workers Party in early September that is widely expected to give Kim Jong-un a senior post.
In return for accepting Pyongyang's call for a visit, Beijing apparently tried to urge the North to participate in the development of Jilin Province connecting Changchun to the Tumen River area as part of China's northeastern development project and to remind it once again of the need for reform and opening, observers speculate.
The key point of the project is for landlocked Jilin to get access to the East Sea by linking it with the North's Rajin-Sonbong region.
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