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China 13 January 2006

Government lies used to conceal visit by North Korea’s “Dear Leader”

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the news blackout imposed by the Chinese authorities on a visit by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, which no Chinese news media has mentioned. One official after another at every level has repeatedly denied that any such visit is taking place.

“This is not so much a lack of transparency as an orchestrated state lie to protect the planet’s worst dictator,” the press freedom organisation said. “Are the Chinese authorities ashamed of their troublesome ally.”

Kim arrived in China in his armoured train on 10 January. Today (13 January) he is said to be in southern China visiting the city of Shenzhen, the symbol of Chinese capitalism. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that Kim stayed in the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. All other visitors were asked to leave the hotel, which - according to the receptionists - was full.

There are many accounts confirming the visit, despite the denials by Chinese and North Korean diplomats. A Japanese commercial TV station today broadcast footage shot clandestinely that showed Kim outside a luxury hotel in Guangzhou. Agence France-Presse reporters meanwhile confirmed the existence of extraordinary security measures around the hotel.

A North Korean diplomat told the Russian news agency Interfax that, “none of our government figures is currently in China.” At a press briefing yesterday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said: “I know that you are all very interested in knowing [where Kim is] but for the time being I have nothing. Each country has its own way of giving out information.”

For “security” reasons, the Chinese government usually does not announce a visit by Kim until he has already returned home. The North Korean media never mention visits by the “Dear Leader” until the day afterwards.

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