News / Asia

China, North Korea Seek Better Economic Ties

Jang Song-Taek during a meeting in Seoul, October 26, 2002.
Jang Song-Taek during a meeting in Seoul, October 26, 2002.
VOA News
Jang Song Taek, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's influential uncle, is in China this week to discuss economic and trade ties. At a meeting on Tuesday, the two countries agreed to take further steps toward the opening of industrial economic zones along their shared borders.

Analysts say the trip, which will include stops in China’s northeastern border provinces of Jilin and Liaoning, is a sign the impoverished country is looking to open up its economy.

Xie Tao, a political scientist at Beijing Foreign Studies University, says that while Kim Jong Un’s father was hesitant to follow in China’s footsteps toward economic reform, North Korea’s new leader is taking a different approach.

“I think that Kim Jong Un's feeling is that his father's sort of rule, that put the military first, is something that can only make North Korea isolated.  So he thinks that he wants to maintain on the political side a dictatorship or authoritarian rule, but on the economic side he wants to do reforms and opening up,” Xie said.

“This is similar to what Deng Xiaoping did in China, [creating] a kind of economic performance legitimacy to maintain the legitimacy of its regime,“ he added.

China’s state run Xinhua news agency says the two sides signed agreements Tuesday that cover the establishment and operation of management committees to help with the development of the economic zones - one in Rason (a warm water port on North Korea’s northeastern coast) and another on islands in the Yalu River along their shared border.

The agreements covered details such as electrical supply, and technical economic and agricultural cooperation.

A statement from China’s commerce ministry said that development on the islands on the Yalu River will focus on sectors that include information and tourism.  At the Rason Special Economic Zone the focus will be on raw materials, equipment manufacturing, and high-tech goods.

In a report earlier Tuesday, China’s vice commerce minister, Chen Jian, said Beijing would lend its support to big Chinese companies looking to invest in North Korea.  

Pyongyang relies heavily on China for economic support. Analysts estimate that trade between China and North Korea has boomed from roughly $300 million in 1999 to more than $3 billion in recent years.

China’s support for North Korea is believed to be partly based on a concerns that a severe collapse of the country’s economy could trigger a flood of North Korean immigrants across its border.

But helping North Korea open its economy also has its risks, Xie Tao says. China, he says, prefers an authoritarian and economically open North Korea that has cool relations with the United States and countries in the region.  If North Korea takes major steps to open up its economy that dynamic could change.

“Once you develop the economy there is a much higher likelihood to dialogue with the U.S.,”  Xie Tao said.  “U.S. capital, technology, South Korea, Japan these are all things that relate to the U.S. China can provide a certain amount of technology, China now has a surplus capital looking for profits, but if you want to integrate in the international community you cannot play without the United States.”

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid