BEIJING: Speculation is rife that Kim Jong Un made a surprise visit to China after media reports that a special train believed to be carrying the North Korean dictator arrived here.
Speculation is rife that Kim Jong Un made a surprise visit to China after media reports about arrival of a special train believed to be carrying the North Korean dictator.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, however, said at a media briefing that she had "no information for the moment" about reports that Kim visited China. "The information will be published in due course," she said.
If confirmed, it would be Kim's first overseas trip since he took over power in 2011 after his father's death.
Japan's Kyodo news agency, citing unidentified sources, reported that a high-ranking North Korean official had arrived in the Chinese capital on Monday afternoon.
Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV showed footage of a train -- similar to the one used for foreign visits by Kim's late father Kim Jong Il -- at a Beijing station.
There were also reports about heavy security on the China-North Korea border and later at a a guesthouse where prominent North Koreans have stayed in the past.
Hong Kong-based 'South China Morning Post' reported that while it is yet to be confirmed if the person is Kim himself, the security arrangements suggest it is someone of great significance.
Historically, the visits of North Korean leaders to China, the country's neighbour and closest ally, were always shrouded in secrecy.
Kim's late father Kim Jong-il too used to visit China secretly.
Tensions temporarily abated in the Korean Peninsula recently over North Korea's nuclear programme after US President Donald Trump agreed for a summit meeting with Kim.
Though North Korea has remained a long-standing ally of China, relations between the two countries have been strained after Beijing beefed up UN sanctions by blocking essential supplies like oil and coal following pressure from Trump.
Observers say the severity of sanctions made Kim to tone down his rhetoric on acquiring nuclear weapons and consider the option for talks with US.