Archive for May 8th, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lots of Face: The unreciprocating Dear Leader

To all who hadn’t noticed, the Chinese Communist Party revealed yesterday that North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong-il had indeed been on an unofficial visit to China. According to Singapore’s Morning News, Kim had been treated with more honors than usual for non-state-visits: he had met with all nine members of the CCP politburo’s standing committee, and party and state chairman Hu Jintao had personally accompanied him on a visit to a high-tech company in Beijing.

Kim in the Computer Room

The North Koreans have advanced technology of their own

Morning News reports that the name of his third son Kim Jong-un, frequently believed to be Kim’s probable successor, wasn’t on the delegation’s name list published in Beijing. “Concerned-with scholars” in Beijing (probably means: politologists, koreanologists etc.) believe that Kim, for health and other reasons, wanted to notify Beijing about who he had chosen as his successor. (According to the L.A. Times, he was seeking Beijing’s – unlikely*)blessing to install Kim Jong-un as his successor.)

In any case, the concerned-with scholars quoted by Morning News believe that no matter which amount of help has been pledged to Kim, the Chinese leaders had certainly given him a lot of face, leaving the impression on the outside world that “China firmly supports [North] Korea”.

But Beijing apparently apparently got nothing in return, writes Morning News, apparently still quoting scholars. The visit, not too long after the Cheonan sinking, possibly dissatisfied Seoul and Washington, and brought no commitment from Pyongyang’s side to return to the six-party nuclear talks. This could make China’s efforts in this field look questionable to the outside world. The high-level reception for Kim probably didn’t pay (不偿失) for Beijing.

As for Chinese concerned-with scholars, Peter Ford of the Christian Science Monitor was apparently allowed to quote some Chinese scholars by name.

“Kim knows that we don’t like him but that we need him,” suggests Cai Jian, deputy head of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. “So he kidnaps China and blackmails us.”


When Prime Minister Wen visited Pyongyang this past October, he promised a $200 million line of credit and a string of investment projects, but analysts here say there have been no signs that the aid has been forthcoming.
“They need aid more than ever, and it seems that China is the only possible source,” says Professor Cai.

“Without Chinese aid North Korea cannot survive,” adds Chen Fengjun, a North Korea expert at Peking University’s School of International Studies.


“We have to help Kim solve his problems,” says Professor Chen. “If we push North Korea towards the American side, that could endanger Chinese security. We have to keep Kim on our side to ensure North Korea’s stability. They are neighbors, and we need good relations with them whether they are good or bad neighbors.”

The North Korean side states that its position of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula hasn’t changed, titles Guangzhou’s Yangcheng Evening Post. Yangcheng also lists the Five Points of Cooperation suggested by Hu Jintao during Kim’s visit – from the usual toolkit, but apparently at least four of them aimed at getting some more realtime information about the dear leadership’s sometimes surprising plans and decisions, and one point about broadening cultural exchange.


*) Korea Daily News contains some similar speculation: “If Kim goes to China to request economic aid, Beijing will definitely demand something in return, which is highly likely to be economic reforms and an end to hereditary succession.”


Good Ganbu’s Friday Nights, November 29, 2010

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