China checks on Kim Jong Un’s health, sends a team to North Korea
Chief ally China has sent a team including doctors to North Korea to check on its leader Kim Jong Un following reports last week that said the 36-year-old was critically ill.
The delegation is led by a senior member of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) international liaison department and left Beijing for Pyongyang on Thursday, a Reuters report said on Saturday.
The visit is set to trigger further speculation about the health of Kim Jong Un who is said to be a heavy smoker, appears overweight and has a history of cardio vascular problems in the family.
China is yet to confirm the visit.
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Beijing is isolated and secretive Pyongyang’s chief ally and economic benefactor and President Xi Jinping has met Kim several times in the last couple of years including during his first state visit to North Korea in 2019 after more than a decade.
Kim, according to earlier reports, was “conspicuously absent” from birthday celebrations on April 15 of his grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung.
He has not been seen in public since a meeting on April 11, which fuelled speculation about his health.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim on Wednesday had sent a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In North Korea, the health of its leaders is treated as a matter of state security.
According to the Reuter’s report, when Kim’s father Kim Jong-il, suffered a stroke in 2008, Chinese doctors were involved in his treatment along with French physicians.
US Media outlets had reported earlier that Kim had gone under a cardiovascular procedure, with CNN citing a US official with direct knowledge of the matter as saying that Washington was “monitoring intelligence” that Kim was in grave danger after a surgery.
On Tuesday, the Chinese foreign ministry said it was aware of reports about the health of North Korean leader but said it does not know their source, without commenting on whether it has any information about the situation.
Spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks during id not elaborate further during the daily briefing.