Traveling to Meet Trump, Kim Jong-un Takes the Long Route – The New York Times

China has played host to Mr. Kim four times in the past year, in an effort to impress upon the North Korean leader that China, not the United States, is his best bet as an economic model. In turn, Mr. Kim, 35, has dutifully toured Chinese green energy projects and high-tech ventures, and shown deference to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, who is almost twice his age.

But the young leader chafes at China’s hold, and his train trip shows that there are limits to it.

When he traveled to meet Mr. Trump for the first time in Singapore last June, Mr. Kim borrowed a Boeing 747 belonging to the national carrier, Air China. (His own Soviet-made Ilyushin Il-62 is almost 40 years old and short of spare parts.)

The train journey suggests that he was reluctant to do so again.

“He does not want to show the world his heavy reliance on China by waving his hand in front of China’s national flag on a Chinese plane as he did at the Singapore airport,” said Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing.

The resulting jokes about North Korea being a province of China apparently did not sit well with Mr. Kim. “Traveling by train is a forced choice,” Mr. Cheng said.

Until Mr. Kim arrived in the Chinese border city of Dandong late Saturday, Chinese analysts doubted that the North Korean leader would bring his own train across China. The security demands would entail too much upheaval to the regular schedules for China’s vast fleet of heavily used high-speed trains, they said.


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