North Korea Gets a Nudge
by Evan Osnos
With Kim Jong Il reportedly preparing to introduce his son and heir apparent to the world, he was in China this week to nurture one of his precious few diplomatic alliances. It produced the usual three-column photos in the Chinese press of a grip-and-grin with President Hu Jintao. But, with Kim’s kingdom in deepening disarray, the Chinese coverage of Kim’s visit did not bother to hide a hint of impatience. “The World Should Encourage North Korea to Open Up,” was the headline in the Chinese edition of the Global Times, a sentiment that might look more at home in a U.S. paper. The author writes, “It’s unimaginable that any country in the world is willing to isolate or lag behind over the long term…. Why shouldn’t North Korea make a try [to open up] as Vietnam has?”
Another item of interest this week: over at the Council on Foreign Relations’ Asia Unbound blog, Evan Feigenbaum follows up on China’s notably gloomy reaction to the news that it has passed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy. He helps frame the issue from the perspective of “some of China’s most powerful economic managers”:
Their China is … a country with one umbrella labor federation but beset by sporadic and unpredictable strikes. It’s a country run by a party that came to power with peasant support but peppered with rural violence. It’s a country approaching a political succession in 2012. And it’s a country seeking to pursue an economic transition. Some Chinese leaders, at least, are quietly wringing their hands. They seem happy to leave the preening to others, not least in the Chinese military and among China’s strategic chattering classes.