The North Korea-China Relationship: Evolution, Interdependence, and the Frontier
End of November the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) organized a conference on "The North Korea-China Relationship: Evolution, Interdependence, and the Frontier". The event was held at Jongsan Hall at IFES. In light of the recent happenings at the border regions of all concerned countries, the North Korea-China relationship is of great importance and has yet to be understood from different perspectives.
The first session was led by John Delury, Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Yonsei University, under the title of "North Korea's Evolving Relationship with China in the Kim Jong Un Era". Adam Cathcart, Lecturer in Chinese History at University of Leeds, examined the Chinese reaction on North Korea's nuclear tests, movements in the border regions and recent export changes through a historical and geographical approach. Hwang Jaeho, Dean of International & External Affairs and Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), chose a more political science approach and analysed the 19th Party Congress of China and the country's foreign policy. He explained in China's own words that China will "not swallow bitter fruits" but protect their own core interests. Thus, Hwang predicts no drastic changes in their behaviour towards North Korea.
Dean Ouellette, Director of International Affairs at IFES and Associate Professor at Kyungnam University, led the second session "China and North Korea: Economic Interdependence and the Border Regions". Yan Yuye, Associate Professor at the Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance, shared insights on the economic cooperation and prospects. She argues China will encourage South Korea to restart economic cooperation with the North and urge America to lessen their military presence. Joung Eunlee, Senior Research Fellow at the Research Institute for North Korea and Northeast Asia Development at Korea Eximbank, gave a presentation about the effects of North Korean-Chinese trade on the population. She emphasized the benefit North Korean citizens have of working in China, as it does not finance the regime as many believe, but in fact secures the low or middle class families and contributes positively to North Korean economy.
Especially because of the latest North Korean missile test, the following discussions were very lively. Participants and experts as well were very active and showed great interest in the panels. FNF Korea is looking forward to organize more events like this with our partner IFES.