CHINA SEEN NUDGING NORTH KOREA'S KIM ON ECONOMIC REFORM
Reuters, May 26, 2011
BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea's secretive leader Kim Jong-il finished his latest visit to the Chinese capital on Thursday, embarking on the next and possibly last leg of a train journey that Beijing has used as a rolling tutorial in the virtues of economic reform.
Kim's armored train rolled out of Beijing in the afternoon, accompanied by the heavy security that has been his calling card in a visit through northeast China to the prosperous eastern province of Jiangsu and then to Beijing, most probably for a summit with Chinese leaders.
It was Kim's third trip to Asia's biggest economy in just over a year, and the journey featured stopovers that may offer lessons for his own tattered and top-down controlled economy.
Kim may take home some new ideas for his drive to make North Korea richer, but experts are not expecting a surge of reform. His many past visits to China have not brought that.
But Kim's visit to China in August left the "impression that the Chinese were trying to push harder on the North Koreans to move in the direction of undertaking certain kinds of economic reforms," said Scott Snyder, an Washington D.C.-based expert on North Korea at the Asia Foundation.
"The Chinese had led the horse to the water many times, and now they were going to make the horse drink," said Snyder.
Beijing has used Kim's visits to urge him to return to negotiations aimed at ending his nuclear weapons program. North Korea alarmed the region with atomic test blasts in 2006 and 2009 that drew U.N. sanctions backed by China.
In the past, Kim has rarely travelled abroad and then only in his personal train. He is believed to be scared of flying.
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