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The BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Shangai
"Kim Jong-il is seeing the most modern face of China's reforms."
 real 28k

Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 16:40 GMT
Kim Jong-il tours Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is China's financial capital
North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-il is reported to have visited Shanghai's gleaming new stock exchange on the third day of a secret trip to China.

Mr Kim is thought to be using the six-day trip to gather ideas on how to rebuild his country's devastated economy.

Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il's visit is being kept under wraps
Shanghai is China's financial capital and its stock exchange, completed in 1999, is one of the largest in Asia.

Mr Kim is also expected to visit joint ventures and high-tech companies during his stay in the city which has been transformed by a decade of investment and economic reform.

Analysts believe he wants to study how China's Communist Party has gradually freed up the economy over the last 20 years without losing power.


I believe Kim Jong-il's visit is a sign of North Korea seeking to follow Chinese-style economic reform


Park Joon-young, South Korean political scientist
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said he believed "North Korea was seeking to become a second China".

Communist North Korea's own economy has been crippled by decades of mismanagement, the loss of Soviet-era subsidies and a series of natural disasters which have caused acute food shortages.

Mr Kim made a secret visit to China last May - his first known trip abroad in 18 years.

Secrecy

Bourse
The bourse has Asia's largest trading floor
China, which is North Korea's closest ally, has still not announced that Mr Kim is in the country, but his presence has been confirmed by diplomatic and other sources.

Some said they believed Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, a former mayor of Shanghai who is spearheading the economic reforms, was Mr Kim's guide on Wednesday.

Shanghai has gone out of its way to keep the visit under wraps, but Mr Kim was spotted leaving the city's Grand Theatre.

Bush

South Korean media reports say Mr Kim will also visit the southern boom town of Shenzhen, the most successful of China's special economic zones which it set up 20 years ago.

There have been signs Pyongyang is considering a similar experiment. Last August, South Korea's Hyundai Group announced it had won permission to develop a special economic zone in the North.

Mr Kim is also expected to use his visit to China to discuss his possible trip to South Korea later this year.

Other talks are likely to focus on the imminent arrival of United States President-elect George W Bush at the White House.

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See also:

16 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Why is Kim Jong-il in China?
16 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Surprise China visit' for Kim Jong-il
19 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
UK and North Korea forge ties
01 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea admits 'friendly' China trip
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