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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid