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

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora