The California-based ‘The Drive – War Zone’ has this description of Kim Jong-un’s armored train:
“…These trains also pack critical communications gear, spaces for a small army of heavily armed guards, as well plenty of room for support staff and the VVIP’s aids. Cargo cars can carry armored vehicles and other outsized loads …
“… It is widely rumored that some highly remote bunker facilities are only accessible by rail or helicopter, making these trains more than just a mode of diplomatic and administrative transport for the regime, they are a key element in North Korea’s continuity of government planning and are potentially intrinsic to the regime’s survival during a crisis …”
Deutsche Welle News said on Feb 23 that “Eyewitnesses at the border between North Korea and China reported seeing an armored train crossing into Chinese territory on Saturday …
Some media speculated about Kim traveling to Beijing for a meeting with his ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping, before continuing towards Vietnam…”
Finally, on Feb 27, China officially confirmed the railway trip but, without any detail, it simply said that when “ … Kim Jong Un made his way to Vietnam, China provided traffic support along the way …”
Yes, you know, I know, everybody knows, after the 2nd Trump-Kim Summit, Washington could enhance its ties with Hanoi, Pyongyang would promote economic cooperation with Hanoi, Hanoi have already been grateful to Beijing for supporting the choice of Vietnam as the summit’s venue … etc.
Looking forward, however, while this road trip is probably a big surprise to Washington and other Western powers, what many Third World countries are watching quietly are the implications of this armored train’s long journey.
Although it is not the first time DPRK’s leaders entered into China’s territory by this vehicle, it is the first time that such a self-armored train goes from the north to the south for as long as four days. Many things could have already happened. Who and who have ever had a direct conversation, or even face-to-face dialogue before and during this journey?
Before this trip, how were the traffic arranged and how deep the mutual trust could have further been developed? As it is unlikely that similar scenario could take place elsewhere (do you think the U.S. would allow Mexico’s president to visit Washington by travelling on a self-armored train?), what are the political and tactical implications to the rail network in the Silk Road Zone? What are the economic implications to the Korea-China-ASEAN railway network in future?
The Beijing-Pyongyang relationship will escalate to a new high level, and it has also widened the imagination space of every strategist on how close can China’s allies be with this increasingly prosperous nation.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.