An NKSIS source reported on July 29th, Kim Jong-il was not able to meet the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin during his China trip in May. Though Kim, instead of going straight to Beijing to meet current Chinese President Hu Jintao, went out of his way to visit Jiang in his hometown Yangzhou, Jiang was unable to meet Kim due to ill health. Instead, our source confirmed, during the two days he stayed in a Yangzhou Guest House he had three long meetings with China's Vice President and the next President Xi Jinping.
Kim had to communicate his business for the visit --to secure unconditional support for North Korea (see footnote)-- with Jiang via letters through Jiang’s closest aide and secretary, Wang Xibao. Then Xi Jinping met Kim Jong-il as Jiang's deputy, and the two had long face-to-face sessions in which they discussed a variety of strategic issues. They reportedly exchanged views openly, just as Kim and Jiang would have done.
Xi made plenty of suggestions with regard to the future bilateral relationship between North Korea and China on political, military, economic matters and Kim gave his views in turn. A key issue touched upon was how China should manage its current relationship status with South Korea, particularly in view of the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette, the Cheonan.
Xi even asked Kim the reasons for his continued military build-up, saying, "Do you think South Korea can start a war against the North?" Kim responded with a short, ironic laugh and no further elaboration. Kim merely nodded as Xi Jinping emphasized the necessity for North Korea to reform and open up.
In response to Xi’s query about why Kim Jong-un didn't accompany him, Kim said, "My power isn't as it used to be. These days, my son is handling the things that I cannot handle anymore. He is currently taking care of state affairs back home." In other words, he indirectly admitted to an attenuated state of influence.
In the end, Kim received Jiang's final letter of apology and farewell through his secretary and was obliged to leave Yangzhou without seeing him. Nevertheless, he could comfort himself with the thought that his meeting with the next President of China was in itself a noteworthy event. It seemed that North Korea's diplomatic stance had obviously changed since Kim's visit to China.
Translation by Hoyeon Choi Supervised by Danny Lee
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