Uncle Leads North Korean Delegation to Beijing

As speculation continues over the timing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s first visit to China, his uncle and the man many believe is the country’s true power broker arrived in Beijing on Monday. From Reuters:

The official KCNA news agency said Jang Song-thaek was visiting China, the North’s only major ally, to discuss setting up joint commercial projects and comes after leader Kim recently told Beijing that his priority is to develop his impoverished country’s decaying economy.

Last month, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters the North was gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after Kim and his powerful uncle purged the country’s top general for opposing change.

KCNA said the meeting is to discuss the joint economic projects in Rason on the North’s east coast, and in Hwanggumphyong, an area on the border between the two countries that is yet to be developed.

The dispatch gave no details about the projects or who else was in the delegation.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo also reports that Jang will stay six days, hold meetings with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and Vice President Xi Jinping, and his delegation will also visit economic zones in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Jang is married to Kim Jong-il’s sister, Kim Kyong Hui.