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Kim Visits Dalian, Tianjin for Port Development Survey

Posted May. 06, 2010 07:50,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visited Binhai New Area in the eastern Chinese port city of Tianjin before arriving in Beijing Wednesday. He last visited Tianjin in April 2004.

Chinese sources said Kim arrived at a Tianjin station around 7:30 a.m. and directly went to Binhai. He visited an urban planning exhibition hall, ports and a bonded area accompanied by Zhang Gaoli, secretary of the Tianjin municipal committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Covering 2,270 square kilometers, Binhai began to be developed as an economic development zone and became a pilot zone for comprehensive reform designated by Beijing in 2006 after Pudong New Area in Shanghai.

The Chinese government is nurturing Binhai as a key area in Huan-Bohai Bay, one of the three biggest economic development regions in China, along with the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta.

As of last month, 128 out of the world’s top 500 companies, including Samsung Electronics, Motorola, Toyota Motors, Coca Cola and Airbus, invested into the Binhai area. Some 100 South Korean companies including Hyundai Mobis, LG Chem and Kumho Tire are operating there.

Kim’s visit to the area, following his stop at Dalian Development Area Tuesday, signals his commitment to developing the North and drawing foreign investment, according to experts.

Park Byeong-gwang, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, said, “Kim’s visits to such cities are aimed at showing the international community that he is interested in China’s policies of reform and opening.”

North Korean official Kim Yong Il, head of the international department of the ruling North Korean Workers’ Party, also visited Tianjin Feb. 24 in an advance visit to China to survey where Kim Jong Il would visit.

North Korea Democracy Network, a South Korean newsletter on North Korea, quoted a North Korean source Tuesday as saying, “Tianjin is a model for the development of the North Korean port city of Nampo.”

“If Tianjin is the gateway to Beijing and Incheon to Seoul, Nampo will serve the same role for Pyongyang. North Korea wants Tianjin to serve as the model for Nampo’s development.”

mungchii@donga.com kyle@donga.com