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RUMORS SWIRL

Issued: 2018-03-26

Beijing ramps up security as suspected North Korean VIP arrives

OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writer

A convoy of vehicles was seen leaving the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing under heavy security on Monday. © Kyodo

BEIJING -- A high-ranking North Korean official, possibly even leader Kim Jong Un, arrived in the Chinese capital on a train Monday, multiple sources familiar with bilateral relations told Nikkei.

Those unconfirmed accounts suggest that the train traveled here via Dandong, a Chinese border city that sits across the Yalu River from North Korea. The dignitary aboard the train is reported to have been transported to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in a convoy of cars.

Security was tight Monday around the Great Hall of the People, where Chinese leaders usually host visiting heads of state. The heavy police presence, including vehicles belonging to the special police unit, is the sort of response seen when a head of state is in town, according to local residents.

The lack of flags on display that typically greet foreign leaders suggests that the visit is unofficial. This has fueled speculation that Kim Jong Un himself or Kim Yo Jong, his younger sister, who led the North Korean delegation to last month's Winter Olympics, is the mystery guest. However, there has been no official confirmation.

Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters Monday that she was unaware whether a high-ranking official from North Korea had arrived in Dandong over the weekend.

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