The Foreign Ministry said yesterday it knew nothing about a reported "secret" visit to China of Kim Jong-il's youngest son.
"We have no knowledge of such a visit," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press briefing when asked about the reported trip of the alleged heir to the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The Republic of Korea's Foreign Ministry and Unification Ministry yesterday said they could not confirm the account of the visit carried in Japan's Asahi newspaper on Tuesday.
The report cited unidentified sources close to the DPRK as saying Kim Jong-un met President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders after flying to Beijing around June 10.
The newspaper said Hu asked Pyongyang to end nuclear testing and test-firing of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Jong-un reportedly asked for emergency energy and food aid from China.
The newspaper claimed an aide to Jong-un told Chinese officials the 26-year-old was heir to his father and held an important post in the ruling Korean Worker's Party.
Little is known about Jong-un, who was reportedly born in 1983 or 1984. He studied at the International School of Berne in Switzerland until 1998 and learned English, German and French, the Swiss weekly news magazine L'Hebdo reported this year.
Liu Jiangyong, one of China's top experts on Korean Peninsula studies at Tsinghua University, said: "So far, I haven't heard of such news (of the visit), either from Chinese officials or academics."
Qin pledged China will uphold required inspections of suspected shipments of banned materials associated with nuclear and missile activities, as stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution passed last week, brushing aside conjecture that Beijing may take a soft approach.
"Regarding the cargo inspection issue, like other members of the Security Council, China will implement the resolution earnestly," he said.
Pyongyang held a large rally on Monday to denounce the UN sanctions.
"In case the enemies foolishly attempt to blockade the DPRK, it will respond with resolute and deadly blows," Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency quoted a senior official as saying.
Liu said: "The DPRK should notice that the resolution, for the first time, said that the sanctions could be cancelled based on how Pyongyang continues. China has managed to support the DPRK's reasonable security concerns and now it's Pyongyang's turn for a wise decision."
When asked whether no mention of Six-Party Talks in recent announcements from the ministry reflected a change in Beijing's approach, Qin said China insists the issue can only be settled through dialogue.
Liu said that while the UN resolution asked Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party Talks unconditionally, "it is unlikely to happen for the time being".
"The Six-Party Talks are a key channel, but not the only one," he said, suggesting the possibility of bilateral or multilateral dialogues.
He did not support five-party talks that exclude the DPRK, saying the DPRK is likely to view it as defiance and react with deeper hostility.
(China Daily June 17, 2009)