Archive for ‘trains’

24/02/2019

North Korea’s Kim on his way by train to summit with Trump in Vietnam

SEOUL/HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his way across China by train on Sunday, media reported, bound for a high-stakes second nuclear summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi.

Few details of Kim’s trip have been announced but he left Pyongyang by train on Saturday afternoon for the Feb. 27-28 summit accompanied by senior North Korean officials as well as his influential sister, North Korea’s state media reported.

Trump and Kim will meet in Hanoi eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, where they pledged to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

With little progress since then, the two leaders are expected to focus on what elements of North Korea’s nuclear programme it might begin to give up, in exchange for U.S. concessions.

In rare, revealing coverage of Kim’s travel, while it is still going on, the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper featured photographs of him getting a red-carpet send-off in Pyongyang and waving from a train carriage door while holding a cigarette.

 

He was accompanied by top officials also involved in the Singapore summit, including Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief and Kim’s top envoy in negotiations with the United States, as well as senior party aide Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and defence chief No Kwang Chol.

The North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who acted as a close aide in Singapore, is again part of the delegation, the North’s KCNA news agency reported. It made no mention of his wife, Ri Sol Ju.

The extensive coverage in the secretive North’s official media was a contrast to the limited reporting that has traditionally prevailed during his foreign trips.

Other senior officials, such as his de facto chief of staff Kim Chang Son and Kim Hyok Chol, negotiations counterpart to U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun, were already in Hanoi to prepare for the summit.

With scant progress since the June summit, the two leaders are likely to try to build on their personal connection to push things forward in Hanoi, even if only incrementally, analysts said.

Both sides are under pressure to forge more specific agreements than were reached in Singapore, which critics, especially in the United States, said lacked detail.

 

“They will not make an agreement which breaks up the current flow of diplomacy. (President Trump) has mentioned that they’ll meet again; even if there is a low-level agreement, they will seek to keep things moving,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

LEARNING FROM VIETNAM

The Trump administration has pressed the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme, which, combined with its missile capabilities, poses a threat to the United States, before it can expect any concessions.

North Korea wants an easing of punishing U.S.-led sanctions, security guarantees and a formal end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Few details of summit arrangements have been released.

Some lamp posts on Hanoi’s tree-lined streets are decked with North Korean, U.S. and Vietnamese flags fluttering above a handshake design, and security has been stepped up at locations that could be the summit venue, or where the leaders might stay.

It could take Kim at least 2-1/2 days to travel to Vietnam by train.

Some carriages of a green train were spotted at Beijing’s station on Sunday, but it was not confirmed it was Kim’s.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim’s train had passed through a station in China’s port city of Tianjin, southeast of Beijing, at around 1 p.m. (0500 GMT).

China has given no details of his trip. Its foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two top North Korean officials who were not in Singapore but will be in Hanoi are Kim Phyong Hae and O Su Yong, vice chairmen of the party’s Central Committee, respectively in charge of personnel management and industrial affairs, KCNA reported.

O is a former minister of electronics and vice minister of metals and machine building. He might try to learn about Vietnam’s development of manufacturing, analysts said.

Kim Jong Un may tour some economic facilities while in Vietnam.

Vietnam, like North Korea, fought a war against the United States and keeps tight control over its people and economy. It has been touted as a model for North Korea’s development.

Vietnamese media reported that a North Korean cargo plane arrived on Sunday carrying personnel who appeared to be Kim’s security guards and state media workers. They were driven under police escort to a downtown hotel.

Source: Reuters

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14/02/2019

Sweden replaces China envoy in furore over dissident bookseller

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden said on Thursday it had replaced its ambassador to China after her “incorrect” handling of unauthorized meetings intended to help free dissident bookseller Gui Minhai.

The Hong Kong-based, Swedish publisher of books critical of China’s communist leaders was abducted in Thailand in 2015 and later appeared in custody in mainland China.

His daughter Angela Gui said this week she had met ambassador Anna Lindstedt and two businessmen in Stockholm in January, where she was advised to keep quiet about her father’s case while negotiations were proceeding.

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said that was not an official meeting, and Lindstedt had now returned to Sweden with an interim envoy sent to Beijing during an inquiry.

“Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Foreign Minister were informed until after the event,” ministry spokesman Rasmus Eljanskog said in an emailed statement.

“As a consequence of the incorrect manner in which the said meetings were handled, we are now conducting an internal investigation.”

Gui, 54, became a Swedish citizen after studying there in the 1980s. After the abduction, he was released in October 2017, but his whereabouts were unclear until January last year when his daughter said he was seized by Chinese agents on a Beijing-bound train in the presence of Swedish diplomats.

China later confirmed it had detained him again.

In her blog, Angela Gui said Lindstedt invited her to Stockholm to meet two businessmen who could help secure her father’s release.

“OUTRAGEOUS SCANDAL”

“The businessman said, ‘you care about Anna (Lindstedt), right? If you keep talking to the media it’ll damage her career. You don’t want her to come to any harm, do you?’”, she said in the post on blog portal Medium.

“In order for this to happen (negotiations), I was told I needed to be quiet. I wasn’t to tell anyone about this, or say anything publicly about the case,” she added.

“I’m not going to be quiet in exchange for … an arbitrary promise that my father ‘might’ be released. Threats, verbal abuse, bribes, or flattery won’t change that.”

China’s Foreign Ministry declined comment, with spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying she knew nothing about Gui’s latest situation. On its website, China’s embassy in Stockholm said it had not authorized anyone to “engage” with Gui’s daughter.

“The Chinese side handles the Gui Minhai case in accordance with law and legal procedure,” it said.

Gui’s original abduction – along with four others in the Hong Kong book trade – fed worries about interference from Beijing despite guarantees of wide-ranging freedoms for the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The four others have since returned to Hong Kong. The United States and European Union have urged Gui’s release.

Sweden said it was continuing to seek Gui’s freedom, as Lindstedt faced scathing criticism for what the leader of Sweden’s Left Party called an “outrageous scandal”.

“A Swedish ambassador has done the bidding of a dictatorship and tried to silence the daughter of a Swedish political prisoner in China,” Jonas Sjostedt told local TV.

“I don’t think we have seen a worse scandal in Swedish foreign administration for decades.”

Lindstedt could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Reuters

04/01/2019

Is this China’s cleverest pig? Farmer trains porker to pull wedding carts

  • Wang Dingxuan has been training animals for past 17 years
  • 75-year-old mother even uses his favourite pig as a private taxi
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 4:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 4:08pm

Wang Dingxuan, 54, said his star performer was a pig that he had trained to jump over hurdles and pull wedding carts – in return for a handful of treats.

Over the years, Wang has built up a strong bond with his animals, he said in an interview published on Pearvideo.com.

“I let the pig live in my house,” he said. “We’ve developed a close relationship.”

The farmer, from the city of Yanshi in Henan province, said he had always loved animals and decided to start training them after seeing a dog perform tricks on a Western television show.

 

After practising for several years, Wang set up the Yanshi City Happy Everyday Pet Performance Group in 2007.

The show features a number of animals, including a pig, dog, goat and pigeon. Footage of a goat walking along a narrow plank became a hit on social media.

“A man from Shandong saw my animals and wanted to buy my pig for more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,450),” Wang said. “I turned him down, but said we were willing to perform for him.”

Although he is now a big hit, Wang said his family was not supportive in the early days.

“They said I should be working in the daytime rather than playing with my animals,” he said. “So I trained my animals at night.”

His persistence worked, and his 75-year-old mother can now often be seen riding the pig on the streets of Yanshi.

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