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DPRK delegation visits Beijing (2)

By Ding Qingfen and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

08:24, August 14, 2012

DPRK: Economy appears higher on agenda

The death toll from floods in the DPRK has risen to 169, while 400 others are missing, the Korean Central News Agency reported on Saturday.

In May 2010, during a visit to China, former DPRK leader Kim Jong-il agreed to set up two special economic zones in the DPRK, with one in the small port of Rason on the east coast near Northeast China's Jilin province, and the other in the west on Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa islands near the Chinese city of Dandong, Liaoning province.

Fan said he believed that "Kim Jong-un is and will be following his father's policy in valuing and consolidating economic relations with China".

Kim Jong-un has yet to visit Beijing. His father was a frequent visitor to China in his later years. But the junior Kim told Wang that it is the "unswerving will" of the DPRK to follow Kim Jong-il's teaching on constantly deepening the traditional friendship between the DPRK and China through the generations.

According to the General Administration of Customs of China, in 2010, trade between China and the DPRK surged by 29.6 percent from 2009 to $3.5 billion.

China's imports from the DPRK in 2010 surged by 50.6 percent to $1.2 billion, and exports to the DPRK grew 20.8 percent to $2.3 billion.

Statistics by the United Nations show Chinese investment in the DPRK grew from $1.5 million in 2002 to about $42 million in 2008.

Zhang Liangui, a specialist on Korean Peninsula studies at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the visit led by Jang could be significant.

Although the visit itself mainly targets economic cooperation, Zhang said: "The DPRK may now shift focus and try to alleviate pressure from the outside on the nuclear issue through diplomatic and economic activities".

Pyongyang said in June that it will further bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense as long as the United States persists in its hostile policy toward the DPRK, when denouncing the largest ever joint live-fire drill between the US and the Republic of Korea.
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