Tuesday, April 06, 2010

North Korea’s troubled relationship with China

North Korea has a long, deep and troubled relationship with China that some experts liken to a marriage of convenience, where both parties must endure the pain of being together because they would be worse off apart.

“China’s food and energy assistance can be seen as an insurance premium that Beijing remits regularly to avoid paying the higher economic, political and national security cost of a North Korean collapse, a war on the peninsula, or subsuming of the North into the South,” the U.S. Congressional Research Service said in a report earlier this year.

Kim Jong-Il’s expected trip to China will likely lead to a return to stalled international talks hosted by Beijing on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, analysts said, while he will try to win sweeteners from China for heading back to the table.

North Korea and China began an alliance as Leninist-socialist brothers that was forged in blood when they fought together during the 1950-53 Korean War and strengthened by numerous visits Mr. Kim made to learn from Beijing’s leaders while he being groomed to take over the state founded by his father Kim Il-sung.

“Kim has become very interested in the China model for development and expressed admiration for it but we have seen that North Korea’s leaders are not willing to take the course that China has taken,” said Peter Beck a researcher at Stanford University who is a specialist in Korean affairs.

The rift over economic openness began in the 1980s and led Kim Jong-il and the North’s media to question whether China was betraying socialist ideals.


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