Tuesday, December 20, 2011

With elder Kim’s death, some see window for change in North Korea

BEIJING — The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has kindled anxiety among the country’s neighbors and beyond, focused on the unpredictable nature of the succession in the isolated, nuclear-armed country.

But China in particular has expressed hope that the sudden and unexpected leadership transition in Pyongyang might offer an opportunity for the country to pursue desperately needed reform of its dysfunctional economic system.
As his people wept, world leaders reacted to the death of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il. China expressed shock and sent condolences, while the White House and State Department would only say they are monitoring the situation closely. (Dec. 19)
As his people wept, world leaders reacted to the death of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il. China expressed shock and sent condolences, while the White House and State Department would only say they are monitoring the situation closely. (Dec. 19)
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China sent troops to fight alongside North Koreans during the Korean War, and Mao Zedong once said the two neighbors’ relationship was “as close as lips and teeth.” But although the country remains Pyongyang’s principal ally and benefactor, Chinese leaders have more recently pressed the North to embrace economic reforms.
In contrast to China, which since 1979 has pursued a policy of economic liberalization and opening to the outside world, North Korea has remained mired in a 1950s-style Stalinist system that brought widespread poverty, food shortages and a shrinking industrial base.
“If the North Korean regime hopes to survive, they must make some changes,” said Zhu Feng, an international studies professor at Peking University.
Zhu said the transfer of power to Kim’s son,Kim Jong Eun, might subject to the new leader to greater pressure for reform.
“Right now, North Koreans lack food and clothing,” Zhu said. “In such a society, the death of the old leader will have a huge impact on society and cause people to reflect and change their ideas.”
Other experts here said it would be wise for the United States and South Korea in particular to move cautiously and avoid provoking hard-line forces in the North.
“I’m optimistic about the future of North Korea,” said Shi Yuanhua, director of the Korean Studies Center of Fudan University in Shanghai. “Compared to his father, Kim Jong Eun has more motivation to reform, considering his background abroad and his age.
“But if the U.S., Japan and South Korea are still waiting for North Korea to collapse one day, then the opening and reform process will be more difficult,” he said.
In the hours after Kim Jong Il’s death was announced on Monday, South Korea placed all government officials on emergency response status and called a National Security Council meeting at the Blue House, its presidential palace. In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda canceled a speech minutes after receiving the broadcast news from Pyongyang, then called a meeting of his crisis management team.
Stocks fell across Asia on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei closed down 1.3 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.2 percent, and South Korea’s Kospi plunged 5 percent, then recovered slightly to close down 3.4 percent. The South Korean currency, the won, also fell 1.6 percent against the dollar. Markets in Europe were trading in positive territory.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged North Korea’s government to reduce the country’s isolation and return to the nuclear disarmament negotiations known as the six-party talks.
“The people of North Korea are in official mourning after the death of Kim Jong Il. We understand this is a difficult time for them,” Hague said in a statement. “We hope that their new leadership will recognize that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Korean people.
China has a vested self-interest in seeing North Korea reform, because Beijing provides North Korea with most of its energy, helps with food assistance and is the isolated country’s principal trading partner and conduit to the outside world.

In the first 10 months of this year, Chinese imports from North Korea, mostly raw materials, grew sharply, up 124 percent over the same period last year, according to Chinese customs data. Still, total trade between the two countries amounted to just $4.6 billion from January through October, a mere 2 percent of China’s trade with South Korea.
China also shares a lengthy border with North Korea. A longtime fear here has been that a total collapse in North Korea could potentially send a flood of refugees into China.
Kim made several trips to China — including three in the past two years — ostensibly to study the economic reforms that have propelled China’s economy over the past three decades.
At least one of the trips was for Kim to introduce his son Kim Jong Eun to Chinese leaders. Although Beijing’s leaders are believed to have taken a dim view of the hereditary transfer of power, analysts said those leaders are willing to work with the younger Kim, just as they did his father.
The cautious optimism about the transition was being voiced not only in China. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Kim’s death “presents an opportunity for the North Korean regime, the new leadership of the new regime, to engage fully with the international community on the critical questions of how to feed their people, how to open their economy and, more broadly, how to deal with the long-standing problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”
The official statements that came throughout the day Monday reflected mostly surprise at Kim’s death.
“We believe the people of the DPRK people will certainly turn their grief into strength, unify as one, and continue to push forward the cause of socialism,” said Ma Zhaoxu, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a statement on the ministry’s Web site.
Correspondent Andrew Higgins in Hong Kong and Zhang Jie in Beijing contributed to this report.

4:07 AM GMT+0900
Probably change into a smaller Communist China or a Venezuela, Nicaragua or some other tin horn unenlightened despot. Take the little cretin out.
3:42 AM GMT+0900

'With elder Kim’s death, some see window for change in North Korea'

Romney does - Obama doesn't...
3:19 AM GMT+0900
Send Michael Jordon over there. Junior idolizes him. Maybe Junior will listen to him.
3:11 AM GMT+0900
All I see is a power vacuum and a lot of nasty infighting within the military over the next couple of years.
3:09 AM GMT+0900
Has anybody considered the single malt Scotch that gets sent to NK with hallucinogens or sedatives? We know it's not being consumed by the Masses. At worst, the tasters will have more fun than they usually do.
3:16 AM GMT+0900
Considering the tasters' behavior, perhaps that's already been occurring...
2:46 AM GMT+0900
Quick! Send Panetta over there! Send Hillary! We must ensure the continuation of communism to prove it is a raging success! What about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over in NK? Will Obama attend the funeral for a fallen comrade? So many questions...I hope the Hawaii vacation is cancelled because of this urgent inter-party matter among fellow travelers all around the world...does Michelle have a food plan for NK? You know...will she tell them what to eat also?
2:55 AM GMT+0900
Get a freaking life con job! Perhaps you'd prefer Mit morons suggestion as to taking out NK right now while there is no leadership!

You idiots just do NOT get it!

The US does NOT own the world and is far from being the world police at this time of bankruptcy thanks to GWB the habitual liar and his rubber stamp neocon party driving this nation over a cliff!
2:57 AM GMT+0900
2:33 AM GMT+0900
Has anyone outside North Korea seen the body yet? If not, I don't see much change coming soon.
2:12 AM GMT+0900
"some see window for change in North Korea"

That would be the same people who prattled incessantly about an "Arab Spring." How'd that work out?
2:13 AM GMT+0900
LOL! Now all CNN has to do is find some NORK Google-execs to interview, and the nonsense will have become complete.

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