High-Security North Korean Convoy Spotted In China, Kim Jong-Un On A Surprise Visit?

| March 27 , 2018 , 10:17 IST

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un since coming to power in 2011 has reportedly never ventured outside the nation. However, as a special train with unusually heavy security arrived from Pyongyang to Beijing at a guesthouse where prominent North Korean leaders have stayed in the past, speculations are rife that Kim Jong-Un himself has arrived in Beijing.

A vehicle convoy was spotted entering the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Monday evening along with heavy security and later a military honour guard. The train coming from North Korea to Beijing was also said to be remarkably similar to the one taken by former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s late father, to Beijing in 2011.

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Kim Jong-Un does have summits planned with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April and with US President Donald Trump in May, but the locations for the meetings have yet to be announced.

Although there had been no reports in the past of an impending meeting between North Korean and Chinese leaders, China has been one of the most important allies of North Korea, despite relations becoming chilled in recent times due to Jong-Un's nuclear weapon tests.

According to South Korean analysts, it is more likely that instead of Kim Jong-Un himself visiting China, he had sent a special envoy, possibly his sister Kim Yo Jong who had recently accompanied a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Seoul. The analysts added that Jong-Un going to China himself in a secret visit would diminish his claims of North Korea being a diplomatic equal to China.

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A visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies Du Hyeogn Cha speaking to AP said that the trip to China was likely to 'appease' a traditional ally ahead of planned meetings with presidents of South Korea and the US.

“North Korea doesn’t want to send a message that China has been pushed to the back as it makes diplomatic approaches to the United States and South Korea,” said Cha.

 “If the talks with South Korea and the United States fall through, North Korea will surely try to demonstrate its nuclear weapons and missile capabilities again. The special envoy could discuss this possibility with Chinese officials, asking China not to press too hard with sanctions if that happens,” he said.

The high-stakes meeting between Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump regarding the possible denuclearisation of North Korea comes after Trump placed stringent sanctions on North Korea for its unrestrained nulcear and missile tests.