China says confident in North Korea's new leader

BEIJING Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:29pm IST

Kim Jong-il (front L) and his son Kim Jong-un (R) talk as they visit Mokran Video Company in Pyongyang in this undated picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency September 11, 2011. REUTERS/KCNA/Files

Kim Jong-il (front L) and his son Kim Jong-un (R) talk as they visit Mokran Video Company in Pyongyang in this undated picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency September 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/KCNA/Files

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Monday voiced confidence in the new leader of its impoverished ally North Korea after his father Kim Jong-il died, promising to support Pyongyang as it enters into a uncertain transition.

"We feel incomparably anguished, and offer our deepest condolences to the entire North Korean people," said China's top leaders, in a statement read out on state television's main evening news.

"The Chinese people will always cherish his memory," said their message, which called Kim a "great leader" who was a "close friend of China".

"We are sure that the North Korean people will abide by Comrade Kim Jong-il's will and unify around the Korean Workers' Party, and under the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong-un turn their anguish into strength," it added.

Impoverished and squeezed by international sanctions for conducting a series of nuclear and missile tests from 2006, North Korea has reached out to Moscow and Beijing for help to fill the gap left by the drying up of South Korean and the U.S. economic assistance.

Over the past 18 months, Kim, who in the past rarely travelled abroad, visited China four times and in August made his first trip to Russia in nearly a decade.

"We are convinced that with the shared efforts of the two sides, the friendship between the parties, governments and peoples of China and the North Korea will be strengthened and developed," said the statement. "The Chinese people will always stand beside the North Korean people."

Kim's visits were mainly aimed at winning economic support, and raised speculation he may finally be opening one of the world's most closed economies.

During Kim's China visit in May, the two sides vowed that their alliance, "sealed in blood", would pass on to their successors.

For China, its much smaller and poorer neighbour is both a buffer and a burden.

China sees North Korea as a strategic barrier against the United States and its regional allies. But that barrier comes with an economic and diplomatic price.

As the North's ties with South Korea and much of the outside world have soured, Kim has leaned more on ally Beijing for support, which has cost China both in economic aid and in strains with South Korea and other nations alarmed by North Korea's nuclear weapons development and military brinkmanship.

China has sought to draw North Korea closer with incentives, and bilateral trade hit $3.1 billion in the first seven months of 2011, an 87 percent increase from the same period last year, according to Chinese customs statistics. Growth was propelled by a 169.2 percent jump in the value of Chinese imports.

Beijing has shored up its support for Pyongyang in the past two years, despite regional tension over North Korea's actions, including nuclear weapon tests in 2006 and 2009 that drew U.N. sanctions backed by China.

(Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Republic Day

Reuters Showcase

Australian Open

Australian Open

Serena avenges French Open loss to reach quarter-finals.  Full Article 

Miss Universe

Miss Universe

Miss Colombia is crowned Miss Universe for 2015.  Full Article 

SAG Awards

SAG Awards

'Birdman' wins top honor from actors in march toward Oscars.  Full Article 

Banking Revolution

Banking Revolution

India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution.  Full Article 

Climate Change

Climate Change

U.S.-China climate deal does not put pressure on India, says Modi  Full Article 

Bangladesh Politics

Bangladesh Politics

Bangladesh charges opposition chief with instigating attack on bus  Full Article 

Box Office

Box Office

Eastwood's "American Sniper" continues as U.S. box office juggernaut   Full Article 

Boko Haram Fight

Boko Haram Fight

Nigeria repels suspected Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri city  Full Article 

Akshay Kumar's Latest

Akshay Kumar's Latest

"Baby" is a smartly written, well-acted film  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage