Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong Un wrapped up his new year visit to China from January 7 to 10, during which he repeatedly mentioned its “economy”, saying that his country has made achievements under its new strategic policy.
Why did the DPRK shift its focus from nuclear programs to economic development? What could the country learn from China's reform and opening-up? Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China, shared his views with CGTN.
What is the main focus of Kim's China visit?
2018 was the year of a global swing. As far as East Asia is concerned, the great catalyst was DPRK's focus on transforming nuclear weapons into economic development. To this end, Kim met with Moon Jae-In, president of the Republic of Korea (ROK), three times, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump.
According to Cheng, Kim's China visit this time occurred on the cusp of DPRK's transformation from an "armistice mechanism" to a "peace mechanism".
Cheng observed that the DPRK planned to develop its nuclear weapons and its economy at the same time, but the two couldn't go in line as the nuclear program triggered international criticism and sanctions. As the sanctions really hurt its economic development, the DPRK decided to shift its focus from military to economy.
“DPRK's nuclear weapon development is almost accomplished. It's time to make a change,” Cheng asserted.
As a result, the country did send positive signals when Kim Jong Un met the U.S. president and abandoned its nuclear and missile tests.
As for their economic cooperation, Kim said China's development experience is very valuable, and he wants to learn from China. China's 40-year reform and opening-up makes the country the second largest economy in the world. China has set a good example on how to reform its agricultural sector, how to attract international investment, and how to upgrade its infrastructure. Moreover, China could offer some financial and technological help to DPRK's development as long as the sanctions are lifted.
What is the current political situation on the Korean Peninsula?
In Cheng's opinion, the current situation is moving in a positive direction.
“On the one hand, Moon met Kim three times. Kim promised to visit ROK by the end of last year but postponed to this year. The two countries are trying to do something in the economic field, but the sanctions act as an obstacle,” Cheng said.
Cheng also held that Moon works hard at serving as a mediator between Kim and his American counterpart-Donald Trump in efforts to finish denuclearization. According to Cheng, the central preoccupation of the DPRK is to prepare for the second Trump-Kim summit.
Cheng also noted that the first summit in Singapore focused on general issues, producing some general censuses. This time they will get down to brass tacks. It is only when the two leaders sit together that real progress can be achieved.
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