Is China’s relationship with North Korea weakening?

24 Apr

Due to past ideological similarities, China has had a close, stable relationship with North Korea for many years. However since Kim-Jung-un took over power after the death of his father Kim-Jung-il, it has become apparent that this relationship is becoming strained. After China’s new leader Xi Jinping sent a letter to Kim-Jung-un requesting that North Korea does not launch a ballistic missile, Mr. Kim went against Mr. Xi’s request and launched one. Many believe that this was an indication that the North Korean leader will not depend on Beijing nearly as much as father, something that was made evident when he came to power and failed to thank the leaders in Beijing have been providing his country with a large amount of food and fuel aid. It is thought that such actions by Mr. Kim that undermine China have lead to China’s patience wearing with North Korea. Signs of China’s discontent with the country were seen in discussions about tensions between North Korea and the US, which on China’s part have been based on a carefully-worded script for many years, but which recently changed when the Chinese leader stated that “no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains.” While Mr Xi did not specifically mention North Korea, many are sure that he was referring to them. What’s more, Kim-Jung-un’s unpopularity in China is becoming apparent through some Chinese media; many jokes, images and names aimed at Mr. Kim have been published on social media sites in China.



3 Responses to “Is China’s relationship with North Korea weakening?”

  1. na8g10 April 30, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I think it’s obvious that China’s relationship with North Korea is weakening. They have probably become more of a hindrance to China nowadays than an asset. China supporting sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear actions is an example of the increasingly changing behaviour towards North Korea from China. I also agree with the sentiment that public opinion of North Korea in China is also changing along with the governments. After one of their nuclear tests, citizens have started fearing nuclear fallout coming in from the island that they tested on that was off the coast of China, increasing the discontent.

    All of this indicates that this relationship is definitely weakening and it will probably keep on weakening unless North Korea starts listening to their allies once again. Considering how much they depend on China it is surprising that they haven’t started listening already.

    • jk10g11 May 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

      Although I agree with both comments I want to argue that is has not only been in recent days that China is withdrawing its support from North Korea.

      China is not only North Koreas biggest Ally but equally biggest trading partner and strongest provider of resources. It has supported North Korea ever since the Korean War, which divided the peninsula.
      However, China was/ is an important contributor in the six party talks of concerning the denuclearisation of North Korea, which started in 2003 (the other countries being the United States, North and South Korea, Japan, and Russia). In 2006 China agreed to UN sanctions against Pyongyang due to their long range missile test and as it is more and more opening to the world it is changing its policy against North Korea.
      In 2009 Pyongyang quit the discussions and has continued in its nuclear ambitions. The Obama administration is keen to rekindle the discussions.

      In early 2012 the new leader of North Korea announced that North Korea would withdraw from Missile text and invite international observers into the country to help with the disarmament. The recent missile test however, has painted a different picture.
      The fact that these tests are happening despite objections is a reason to believe that China has less control over North Korea and originally believed.
      None the less, there is too much at stake for China to let North Korea down completely. China’s trade with North Korea has steadily increased over the past years, and it was not gravely affected by UN Santions because it was termed ‘development aid’. Additionally North Korea provides a buffering zone between China and the westernised and democratic South Korea.

  2. jk10g11 May 15, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    I agree with the article on the international reaction that was doubtlessly also considered in the decision taken to execute these people that publicly.
    It is however, equally important to look at the reactions of the Chinese Population concerning these executions. Many journalists and scholars argue that this execution was mainly public, to convey a new sense of security for the Chinese population. These executions are a display of China harshly prosecuting and judging any enemy to the Chinese people.

    The Chinese government officially stated that they were considering using missiles to kill the gang surrounding Naw Kham, however, re-evaluated the situation and instead, went on a 2 year long manhunt, to capture the accused alive.
    In the media report about their execution, this followed them until minutes before their death by lethal injection, the emphasis was to show their weakness. The last words of the accused gang leader were allegedly, ‘I hope my children don’t become like me. I don’t want to die.’

    The response of the Chinese public was divided. And I agree with the blog article that states that a big part of the Chinese population is for the death penalty and some voices mocked that condemned, whishing for a less lenient method of execution and showed the reaction the government was aiming for, many Chinese scholars and lawyers were against this public execution, deeming it against the Chinese law which forbids public executions.

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