China began preparing for a power transition in North Korea several years before Kim Jong-Il’s death and will do its utmost to consolidate his inexperienced son’s hold on power, analysts say.
North Korea’s closest ally has long sought to bolster its unpredictable, nuclear-armed neighbour, and is particularly keen to avoid instability on its borders as it prepares for its own transition of power this year and its economy loses steam.
Beijing fears a collapse of the North Korean regime would bring “the possibility of refugees, loose nukes, regional economic chaos, and an uncertain disposition of US troops on the Korean peninsula”, said John Feffer, co-director of US research group Foreign Policy in Focus. “China will do whatever it takes to help consolidate Kim Jong-Un’s rule,” Feffer said, such as helping the impoverished nation to develop its economy, crippled by energy and food shortages as well as international sanctions.
Kim’s last trips to China included visits to special development zones or factories, indicating Beijing was keen to pass on the lessons of the highly successful opening up of the Chinese economy to the outside world.
“It (China) can pump enough resources and expertise into North Korea to get the country back on its feet,” said Feffer.