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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs