China could promote closer collaboration with Japan, S.Korea to prompt N.Korea’s economic push

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/3 20:58:40

The trilateral leaders' meeting of China, Japan and South Korea, which will start on Wednesday in Tokyo, comes at a sensitive time as investors in each country eye North Korea's economic situation in search of business opportunities.

Delicate competition exists among China, Japan and South Korea, amid concerns about the geopolitical risk that Pyongyang may move closer to some parties due to economic considerations after it shifts its attention from nuclear tests to economic development.

Some people in South Korea are worried that Pyongyang may build closer ties with Beijing if North Korea begins to open up its economy and seek economic assistance from China, which is now the country's most important economic partner.

Japan might share this concern, and potential business opportunities in North Korea may also provoke strategic competition between Japan and South Korea. But economic competition will only exacerbate the geopolitical picture in Asia.

Efforts to enhance coordination and collaboration on economic issues are expected to be a key point made by China during the trilateral leaders' meeting. China is likely to be willing to play a positive role in promoting closer collaboration with Japan and South Korea to prompt North Korea to open up its economy, and make this effort an important component of future cooperation among the three countries.

In recent years, China has worked with other concerned parties to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the six-party talks process to safeguard the peace and stability of northeast Asia. Now China will continue to contribute to the peace process, and economic collaboration may represent an important direction of the efforts.

It's almost unimaginable what would happen if the UN Security Council begins to loosen economic sanctions against North Korea. Property prices in the China-North Korea border city of Dandong skyrocketed in recent weeks, showing the enthusiasm of Chinese investors for potential business opportunities in North Korea.

The world may soon witness the amazing power of economic exchanges between China and North Korea. At the very least, it can be predicted that North Korea will soon see Chinese tourists flocking to the country after the UN lifts economic sanctions.

Just the consumption of the descendants of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army who fought the Korean War (1950-53) is likely to inject new vigor into the North Korean economy, as these people cherish the memory of their family members in the country. North Korea's economic cooperation with China, Japan, South Korea and other countries won't proceed at the same speed due to historical and economic reasons. The trilateral leaders' meeting offers a chance to enhance mutual trust among countries in the region and help establish a friendly external environment for a possible economic take-off in North Korea.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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