North Korea and China used to have profound economic and diplomatic ties. However, under Kim Jong Un, North Korean society is increasingly turning against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Financial Times reported on Dec. 12 that, the North Korean regime is worried about its dependence on the CCP. North Korea has long viewed the CCP as the main threat to its very existence.
North Korea considers the CCP the most significant national security threat
From CNN, North Korea’s economy depends almost entirely on the CCP. Since the 1950 Korean War, North Korea has been an ally with China. Later, when North Korea was isolated, the CCP became its biggest trading partner.
Andrei Lankov, a North Korean expert at Seoul National University in South Korea, said that those who believe that the CCP and North Korea have agreed on ideology are completely baseless. North Korean anti-espionage officials say the CCP—not the US—is their biggest domestic security threat because the CCP can damage them from within.
According to an analysis by the Financial Times, the two communist nations turned their backs on each other stemming from China’s role in saving North Korea during the Korean War. The North Korean government feared that the CCP will infiltrate Pyongyang afterwards.
Analysts cite an example: North Korea has deleted historical information that Kim Il Sung, the first North Korean leader, was a member of the CCP. When it comes to the CCP, North Korea only says that the CCP “participated in the war.”
According to historical records, Kim Il-sung participated in the so-called “Anti-Japanese Allied Forces” under the CCP’s Manchuria Provincial Committee. After the Korean War, Kim Il Sung took down all the closed ties to the CCP, leading to the withdrawal of the remaining CCP troops in North Korea in the late 1950s.
The CCP is “North Korea’s 1000-year enemy.”
North Koreans have a saying: “Japan is a 100-year enemy, and China is a 1000-year enemy.”
During the US-Soviet Cold War, the North Korea-CCP relationship was always intense.
The CCP’s great betrayal to Pyongyang was when the CCP normalized relations with South Korea in 1992, but they failed to help North Korea gain recognition from the United States.
John Delury, a professor of China studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, says China has thrown Pyongyang away in the blink of an eye.
North Korea has continued to become an enemy of Beijing by developing nuclear weapons and limiting the influence of the CCP on its borders.
For example, in 2012, North Korean officials confiscated iron ore mining facilities built by Chinese companies in southwestern North Korea and expelled all Chinese workers.
In 2013, Kim Jong Un executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek, a high-ranking official who was considerably close to Chinese officials. In 2017, Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated since he was living under China’s protection.
The so-called “China-North Korea Friendship Bridge”, funded and built by the Chinese Communist Party in 2013, crosses the Yalu River to connect Dandong city on China’s side to Sinui city on North Korea’s side. North Korea has then separated the Bridge with the domestic traffic grid on their end.
Delury says that for North Koreans, opening up the economy to the CCP means giving them the keys to the country. He noted that when Pyongyang decided to install a rudimentary mobile phone network, it chose an Egyptian company.
“If you’re worried about war, you’re worried about the US, but if you’re worried about subversion or a coup, you’re much more worried about China.”