Execution of NKorea Kim's Uncle May Pose Problems for China

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 04:28 AM

By Robert Brothers

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It is unclear thus far how the removal from power and execution of Jang Song Thaek, uncle of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, might affect Pyongyang’s relations with China, a top ally.
Jang oversaw economic relations between Pyongyang and Beijing and established exclusive economic zones between the two countries. He visited China last year for meetings with top leaders while Kim stayed home in North Korea.
Beijing said it is closely monitoring events in North Korea in the wake of Jang’s execution.

But Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his government does not expect major changes in Pyongyang’s policies, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a China News Service account.
South Korean reports have said about half of North Korea’s top 200 officials and military officers have been replaced since Kim came to power, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
A 2,700-word North Korean document outlining Jang’s supposed crimes called him “a despicable political careerist and trickster," “human scum,” and "worse than a dog," and says he plotted to destroy the North Korean economy and seize power.
Jang was also denounced for "clapping half-heartedly" while others furiously applauded Kim’s promotion to vice chairman of a military commission in 2010.
Relations between North Korea and China have deteriorated this year, as Pyongyang repeatedly disregarded Beijing’s warning to not proceed with a nuclear test in February.

Tensions further escalated in April when Pyongyang responded to international sanctions with a series of threats. 
Although it is heavily dependent on trade with China, North Korea has probably calculated that Beijing would prefer the maintenance of the status quo to the emergence of a single Korean nation friendly to the United States.
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