China not only shares its borders with North Korea but also shares a similar communist ideology with the reclusive state and has always extended support towards the Worker’s Party, which has been in power for the last 70 years or so. On the 70th anniversary of the Worker’s Party, a huge military parade was organized, aimed at sending a serious message to Pyongyang’s detractors. Thousands of people gathered to show support towards their inexperienced leader, Kim Jong-Un, a man who took the mantle from his late father, Kim Jong-Il, to ensure that the reclusiveness of the country of his forefathers remains thus.
On the eve of the occasion, Beijing sent the country’s fifth most powerful man, Liu Yunshan (member of the Politburo Standing Committee), to observe the proceedings. Yunshan is now the highest official from Beijing to have visited North Korea during the Kim dynasty, which shows that China intends to clear the air with North Korea and wants to ensure that its leader’s thirst for power and panache for the extravagant is kept in check for the sake of stability in the region.
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Time for China to help North Korea
However, Xi Jinping is aware of the fact that Kim Jong-Un is not doing himself any favors by portraying himself as the ultimate bad guy of the international community, which has indeed made him a laughing stock in the cyber-world. Beijing is reportedly keen on improving Kim’s image in the cyber-world by filtering data and censoring criticism on Pyongyang and even asking the web community to not to mock the country’s leader anymore.
Soon after Kim came in to power, relations with Beijing became a roller-coaster ride as about 29 Beijing fishermen were abducted for ransom by North Koreans. However, they were over with this soon, and as proof in Feb 2013, when Kim was about to conduct a third nuclear test, he backed down from this decision on Beijing’s request, thus proving that if any country can put a lid on North Korean aggression, it is China.
North Korea willing to be helped?
On the other hand, North Korea has a strange and bizarre image in the international community as a mysterious state, due to close media and non-participation in international events. Moreover, Pyongyang has never sincerely tried to defend the criticism raised by the media of other nations, and this practice provided carte blanche to others to make stories of their own without any conclusive proof or evidence.
Liu’s presence in Pyongyang itself gave huge media coverage to the 70th anniversary of the Worker’s Party and sent a clear message that from then on, Beijing will be taking care of the cyber-world and ensuring that Kim no longer remains a source of ridicule for “netizens.”
This all seems to be a part of an official deal between both governments to assimilate the right image of North Korea in the global community and even help the North Koreans improve their media cell for the betterment of their country’s image. On the other hand, we can take this move as a strategy which will be just a start towards China lending a helping hand to its neighbor in a bid to give it a chance to improve its economic condition.
Similarly, now Kim has taken a step to clear the misconceptions regarding North Korea, and, with the help of such measures, hopes to find a way to lift sanctions. Despite the fact that he has inherited his father’s stubbornness by not showing any flexibility, it appears that Kim is slowly starting to understand that he might struggle to remain in power if he does not show flexibility in his behavior. The Kim dynasty may run low on support eventually, and this could possibly result in a regime change, which is something China is not eyeing at the moment.
And in Liu, Kim has now got himself an ally who knows all about the inner workings of a propaganda apparatus. Indeed, China has a lot to gain if it is able to improve on the tattered image of North Korea in the eyes of the world.
Winds of change powered by China?
All this hard man show from North Korea is likely to be a façade. The leader and his advisors are aware that 70 years of policies that are only focused on keeping intact the Kim Dynasty are now really costing the country on all levels. It is not really a shock for anyone to see North Korea allowing itself to be reached out to by China. Every country needs allies, and in this case, North Korea is really desperate for an ally in spite of the fact that its leaders’ ego might never allow them to state it in an obvious fashion.
Currently Kim is standing where China was 60 years ago and, from there, they carved out their way by maintaining a balance between their ideology and the needs of the global system. Though this process requires time, in the case of China at that time, it was alone with no guidance but for Pyongyang. So now Beijing is there to guide Pyongyang and make this transition easier.
During the celebrations, Kim expressed his wish to host world events in the future, which is a clear sign that the young leader is slowly maturing into his role and is probably accepting the fact that he cannot act as a lone wolf and will eventually need allies to take care of his detractors – both inside and out.