North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may visit Beijing as his first foreign trip since assuming power in 2011.
According to Reuters, the Chinese Ambassador to South Korea, Qiu Guohong, signaled the possibility on September 17.
Qiu spoke of the “normal relationship” China and North Korea maintained after the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011 and his son’s ascension to power. Qiu said, “I think that a visit from Kim Jong Un might materialize some time in the future.”
Qiu made clear the schedule for Kim Jong Un’s possible visit is dependent on a number of things and “should [not] be closely tied to the question of whether China-North Korea relations are good or bad.” After all, Kim Jong Il was in power for six years before he felt he had “consolidated his grip” over North Korea sufficiently enough to allow him to travel abroad.
Kim Jong Un is 31 years old. His father was 70 at his death, and ruled North Korea from 1994 to 2011.
On July 2, Breitbart News reported that Chinese engineers were working on a $6.3 billion high-speed rail project linking China and North Korea. The rail construction is expected to be completed in 2016.
In August the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said “China is North Korea’s most important ally.” China is North Korea’s “biggest trading partner, and main source of food, arms, and energy.” The Chinese helped “sustain” North Korean leadership during the transition from Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong Un and CFR believes China will continue to do what they must to prevent “a sudden regime collapse.”
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