Did China Protest against the Succession?

Immediately after the second nuclear test in May last year, China told North Korea that it should abandon its nuclear program and the third generation succession then open up and reform its economic system, a report released by Japanese daily the Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday claimed.

For China to make suggestions on matters of sovereign governance to North Korea is unprecedented, although Beijing is known to have carefully suggested abandoning nuclear weapons and following the Chinese route of reform and opening to Pyongyang in the past.

According to the report, North Korea sent Jang Sung Taek, Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law, to Beijing early in May of 2009 to explain that Kim had appointed son Kim Jong Eun as his successor.

Then, in late May when Jang visited an angry Beijing again to explain the North’s actions following the second nuclear test, the only person he was granted a meeting with was Wang Jiarui, leader of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. As the sole representative of China, the Japanese newspaper says Wang forcefully suggested reform, opening and abandonment of nuclear weapons, and also objected to the succession plan.

The report also says that at that time China piled the pressure on North Korea by cancelling official visits to Pyongyang and withdrawing persons working and studying in North Korean enterprises and universities.

The newspaper also claims that later, in July, Kim Jong Eun visited Beijing as the successor to Kim Jong Il. While there, he is reported to have implied a return to the Six-Party Talks and adopted a positive attitude to inviting Chinese capital into the North.

Thereafter, Chinese officials started visiting North Korea again and relations returned to normal.

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