Kim Jong Un 'makes surprise China visit'

A special train may have taken Mr Kim Jong Un to China through Dandong, Japan's Kyodo News said.
A special train may have taken Mr Kim Jong Un to China through Dandong, Japan's Kyodo News said.
A convoy has been seen in Beijing amid Japanese media reports of possible visit by high-level North Korean official.

BEIJING • Kim Jong Un has made a surprise visit to Beijing on his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011, three people with knowledge of the visit said yesterday.

Further details of the visit, including how long Mr Kim would stay and who he would meet, were not immediately available. The people asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.

A special train may have carried Mr Kim through the north-eastern Chinese border city of Dandong, Japan's Kyodo News said earlier. Nippon TV showed footage of a green train carriage with yellow horizontal lines, part of a 21-car train that looked similar to one used by Mr Kim's father, Mr Kim Jong Il, to visit the Chinese capital shortly before his death in 2011.

The unannounced move follows US President Donald Trump's decision this month to grant an unprecedented meeting to Mr Kim, after South Korean officials said Mr Kim was willing to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons programme.

Asked earlier at a news briefing on reports of an important North Korean visitor arriving at the Chinese border city of Dandong, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said she was unaware of it.

On Chinese social media, some Dandong residents said there had been high security around the train station and said there was talk of Mr Kim passing through.

Police tightened security along Beijing's main east-west thoroughfare, Changan Avenue, mid-afternoon yesterday, closing off entrances to some of the buildings which face the road.

 
 
 

Police also cleared out all tourists from Tiananmen Square around the same time, which normally only happens when important meetings are happening in the Great Hall of the People.

Late yesterday evening, Reuters reporters saw a long motorcade, including a limousine with dark tinted windows, heading down Changan Avenue towards the Diaoyutai State Guest House and away from the Great Hall of the People, flanked by a police escort on motor-bikes.

A source with ties to the Chinese military told Reuters that it was "not possible to rule out the possibility" that Mr Kim was visiting Beijing, but cautioned that this was not confirmed.

Visits to China by Mr Kim Jong Il were only confirmed by both China and North Korea once he had left the country.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2018, with the headline 'Kim Jong Un 'makes surprise China visit''. Print Edition | Subscribe