Jang's fall won't exert significant influence on East Asian dynamics

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-9 20:38:01

Read more in daily special: N.Korean leader's uncle purged from power

This undated image grab taken from footage shown by North Korea's KCTV and released by South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Monday shows Jang Song-thaek (center) reportedly being dragged from his chair during a meeting in Pyongyang. Photo: AFP/Yonhap

Jang Song-thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and considered the country's second most powerful man, has been purged from all posts and expelled from the ruling Workers' Party, the country's state media reported Monday after days of speculation in foreign media about Jang's whereabouts. This is the latest in a series of personnel reshuffles after Kim Jong-un assumed power in 2011. Jang's fall from the leadership, according to a dispatch detailed in the media report, was due to his "abuse of power," "being engrossed in irregularities and corruption" and "having improper relations with several women." But in a regime like North Korea, political issues are the real reasons for his fall.

Judging from available reports, Jang advocated that the country put more focus on economic development, while the military and some others, including Kim Jong-un, are more in favor of the military-first policy and the development of nuclear weapons. The two sides may have had a dispute about how to allocate the limited financial resources that the country has, which could have been one reason for Jang's fall.

There have been discussions on what Jang's dismissal may mean for North Korea's internal politics and the future of this country. It is expected that later a purge of other officials such as Jang's allies may take place. It will test the wisdom of Kim Jong-un, as he discovers whether he can firmly hold power and lay to rest international speculation about his country's stability.

Kim Jong-un would like to adhere to the policy of putting the military first, but he would also like to paint a picture with two brushes at the same time - boosting nuclear capabilities and developing the economy at the same time. But the reality is that the international community will not allow it to.

Jang has pushed forward economic relations with China, but this doesn't necessarily mean he has a pro-China mind. Some North Koreans, with a strong nationalistic mentality, believe Jang's policies are somewhat like selling off the country's resources at cheap prices and "throwing the state financial management system into confusion," as the state media claimed. But generally, his fall won't exert much impact on the China-North Korea relationship.

As for the situation in the Korean Peninsula, South Korea has showed concern about its northern neighbor's rearrangement of its power structure. But there will not be a head-on confrontation between the two any time soon.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Wang Wenwen based on an interview with Zhang Liangui, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC. wangwenwen@globaltimes.com.cn

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