North Korean group touring China to study reform and opening-up: foreign ministry

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/15 23:08:40

A delegation of North Korean officials arrived in Beijing on Monday to tour the capital and study reform, opening-up and economic development in the second such bilateral exchange within a week following Pyongyang's vow to focus its energies on the economy and give up nuclear weapons.

At the invitation of the International Department of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China, a friendship visiting group of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) arrived on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Tuesday.

The group was seeking to see China's reform and opening-up achievements and learn about "domestic economic development," Lu said.

The group was being led by Pak Thae-song, a member of the political bureau and vice chairman of the WPK Central Committee, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

"North Korea's economic development is in a crucial period, as are its relations with China," Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "As Pyongyang shows more determination and actions toward peaceful development, Beijing will provide all necessary assistance to its neighbor.

"Although it can gain abundant experience from China, North Korea is unlikely to fully copy China's model. The country needs a pattern that suits itself," he said.

Lu did not reveal the duration of the tour or the planned stops. Chinese observers said the route might include representative cities like Shenzhen and Zhuhai in South China's Guangdong Province.

As China's first special economic zone after reform and opening-up was launched in 1978, Shenzhen has transformed from a fishing village to a metropolis with the third-biggest GDP on the Chinese mainland.

A North Korean special economic zone could pilot a legal and administrative system for foreign investment that differs with other regions of the country in a safe but efficient way of attracting foreign capital, Lü said.

Compared to South Korea, China's experience is more practical for North Korea as the two countries' political systems are more similar, he said.

The official trip comes after a delegation led by Chinese Ambassador Li Jinjun visited Sinuiju, capital of North Pyongan Province, on Friday and Saturday, when the North Korean side said it expected further joint exchanges and cooperation with China's Liaoning Province, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.

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