North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Liang Guanglie Visit

PYONGYANG, Nov. 24, 2009 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (L, 2nd line), lays a wreath before the Korea-China Friendship Tower to commemorate the Chinese People's Volunteers who lost their lives during the Korean War in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Nov. 24, 2009. Liang makes a five-day visit in the DPRK since Nov 22.(Xinhua/Yao Ximeng)

PYONGYANG, Nov. 24, 2009 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (L, 2nd line), lays a wreath before the Korea-China Friendship Tower to commemorate the Chinese People's Volunteers who lost their lives during the Korean War in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Nov. 24, 2009. Liang makes a five-day visit in the DPRK since Nov 22.(Xinhua/Yao Ximeng)

Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie held a meeting with NDC Vice Chair and Minister of the People’s Armed Forces VMAR Kim Yong-chun Tuesday.  According to Xinhua, Gen. Liang remarked that “The relationship between the two militaries is a key component part of the bilateral ties.  .  .China is willing to further maintain close contacts with the DPRK, to intensify mutual exchange and cooperation and to push the in-depth development of the China-DPRK good neighborly and friendly relations.”

Not to be outdone as toastmaster, VMAR Kim remarked that “the DPRK-China friendly and cooperative relationship was jointly established by the leaders of the older generations of the two countries and was consolidated and developed in the new historical period.  The DPRK is willing to make concerted efforts with China to ceaselessly elevate the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and the two militaries to a new height.”

The Chinese and North Korean military heavies may be referring to agreements signed during Wen Jiabao’s visit.  A recent story in the ROK press contends that one of these agreements involves Chinese authorities repatriating North Korean migrants, while the North Koreans agreed to stop using China as a transshipment point for narcotics trafficking.  It should also be noted that some of the DPRK’s biggest supporters within the Chinese leadership apparatus are in the PLA.

During his Pyongyang stay, Gen. Liang has also attended a concert, made a pilgrimage to Mangyongdae and laid a wreath at the DPRK-Sino Friendship Tower in Pyongyang.  One further note about this round of DPRK-PRC engagement.  VMAR Kim is shadowed by Gen. Pak Jae-gyong, Vice-Minister of the PAF.  Gen. Pak is one of Kim Jong-il’s closest military advisers.  Gen. Pak, along with Gens. Hyon Chol-hae and Ri Myong-su, are Kim Jong-il’s three musketeers in the KPA.

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  1. Joshua Stanton
    November 25, 2009

    A recent story in the Japanese press contends that one of these agreements involves Chinese authorities repatriating North Korean migrants in coordination with the DPRK’s State Security Department, while the North Koreans agreed to stop using China as a transshipment point for narcotics trafficking.

    Do you have a link to that? Is the story in English, or are you relying on Japanese language skills?

    • nkleadershipwatch
      November 25, 2009

      I had read something in the Japanese press (a translation) about this new arrangement—but the story I was thinking of appeared in Chosun Ilbo which you can read here
      http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/11/16/2009111600829.html

      • adamcathcart
        November 26, 2009

        Loved the post, but that Chosun Ilbo article linked here is seriously sketchy. CI has “a senior source in North Korea”? If they do, he didn’t have much time to talk, because the article then has to take a flying leap into speculation:

        “No details have been disclosed, but it is presumed that this refers to cooperation between traditional intelligence agencies including North Korea’s External Liaison Department and Operational Department rather than in ferreting out and repatriating North Korean defectors. The source said the two sides put the agreement into writing to strengthen their defense against South Korea, the U.S. and Japan.”

        Not to say that the recent PRC-DPRK colloquy would just ignore discussion of Japan/U.S./ROK alignments, but the above quote really reminds me of the writing in the West during the Sino-Soviet treaty negotiations in 1950. Secret agreements signed in blood!

        Then the article continues, giving old Hwang Jang-yop his mandated column inches to ruminate, the piece illustrated by an undated (and quite possibly very old) photo of “Chinese troops [casually] cracking down on North Korean defectors,” and basically concluding with wild quote from a local on the Tumen about “hundreds” of Chinese “disappearing” into NK, snatched by security agents.

        I don’t have seven hundred sources on the Tumen River, but no one, absolutely no one, was talking like this there over the summer, and there were plenty of reasons to do so, given the coverage of the Ling/Lee thing. North Koreans shooting across the border or threatening foreigners who were taking pictures/filming? Sure. Hundreds of random abductions, no.

        In the absence of much concrete coming out from Xinhua or KCNA or the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang, of course such speculation is attractive, but it takes several leaps of logic to ascribe veracity to that particular Chosun Ilbo article.

        It also seems to me that intelligent people like Joshua Stanton need to provisionally make up their minds given the available evidence: in the event that North Korean agents are running around Chinese territory, what is the PRC’s attitude toward such action? The picture Stanton seems to paint is that China collaborates wholesale with the DPRK border forces.

        http://www.freekorea.us/2009/08/24/lisa-lings-husband-expresses-concern-for-refugees-ling-and-lee-remain-silent-on-refugees-fate/

        There is some good dialogue in the comments section on the above post (including appearances by an insouciant but well-informed “spelunker” of the North Pyong’an-Liaoning province border).

        As for misleading material published in the English version of the Daily NK regarding cross-border cooperation between DPRK and PRC security agencies:

        http://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/correcting-the-record-on-news-from-the-border-zone/

        In conclusion the Chosun Ilbo article notes:

        “North Korea is also the biggest thorn in the side of the Chinese intelligence agencies and police. Their chief concern in the three northeast Chinese provinces is how to crack down on counterfeit dollars and yuan and drugs smuggled out of the North.”

        Goodness! No disagreements there.

        Apologies for the windbaggery on what was a minor aspect of your quality post. Along with my colleagues, I’m enjoying your work quite a bit.

  2. juchechosunmanse
    November 26, 2009

    I have my doubts about the credibility of this article Mike. Do you know anything about the alleged kidnappings of Chinese citizens by the DPRK?

  3. Joshua Stanton
    November 26, 2009

    Here’s the money quote, but I don’t think it says what you think it does:

    No details have been disclosed, but it is presumed that this refers to cooperation between traditional intelligence agencies including North Korea’s External Liaison Department and Operational Department rather than in ferreting out and repatriating North Korean defectors.

    Admittedly, this is pretty opaque writing, so it’s not easy to figure out what the reporter is trying to say.

  4. nkleadershipwatch
    November 26, 2009

    Somebody remind me not wade into the messy DPRK-PRC border issues! And I am delighted to see people with greater expertise in these particular issues. I should restrict myself to the walled confines of Pyongyang’s forbidden city.

    I was merely parsing Chosun Ilbo’s article, and I attempted to be careful to underscore the gossip column-like quality to this. I should have emphasized those activities the External Liaison and Operations Departments actually discharge in China, rather than the repatriation issue.

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