China Belatedly Confirms N.Korean Leader's Visit

  • By Lee Kil-seong

    March 28, 2018 12:59

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to China caught the entire world by surprise, but the Chinese government and state-run media were slow to acknowledge it after drawing a proverbial bamboo curtain around the trip.

    The Chinese government had said that it intends to treat North Korea like any other country and do away with the tradition of secret visits by a North Korean leader as seen during the days of former leader Kim Jong-il. But the first thing Beijing did when Kim Jong-un visited China was to set up a huge fence screen at Dandong railway station when Kim's personal train passed by.

    On Monday, when Kim started his visit to Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry said it had no knowledge of the North Korean leader's visit. The external liaison office of China's Communist Party apparently hung up the telephone when diplomats from foreign embassies called to ask about the rumored visit.

    China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying denied knowledge of Kim's visit on Tuesday when foreign news media reported that the trip had taken place. Hua merely added that she would make an announcement at an "appropriate time" if necessary.

    And only on Wednesday morning did the official Xinhua news agency and CCTV report on the visit after the North Korean leader returned home.

    China's diplomacy is often dubbed preposterous when it comes to North Korea. Beijing has been calling for the resumption of multilateral talks to discuss the North's nuclear weapons program, but it resorted to keeping other countries entirely in the dark about the latest visit by the North Korean leader.

    The South Korean government was utterly transparent about a trip by Kim's sister, Yo-jong, to the South during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and even briefed reporters about what was discussed during her meeting with President Moon Jae-in.

    National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong even traveled to Beijing to brief Chinese officials about his trip to North Korea as Moon's envoy. 

    Still, China opted to hold a secretive meeting with the North Korean leader. Experts say China will only lose its credibility in spearheading six-party talks through such behavior. 

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