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UPDATED: December 26, 2011 NO. 52 DECEMBER 29, 2011
Steady as Kim Goes
Maintaining the China-North Korea friendship and long-term stability on the Korean Peninsula is China's hope for the post-Kim Jong Il era

PEOPLE IN MOURNING: North Koreans mourn the death of their leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang on December 20, 2011 (ZHANG LI)

The death of Kim Jong Il, top leader of North Korea, created one of the last focuses of 2011. After the news broke, world leaders were busy calling each other to discuss the ramifications. South Korea put its military on alert while Japan ordered extra vigilance from its coast guard. U.S. President Barack Obama kept in close contact with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, while expressing concern about North Korea.

At this critical juncture everyone is pondering the future of North Korea. Some have even expressed worries about whether the young heir of Kim Jong Il, his third son Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s, can fulfill the task of leading North Korea out of its current predicament. They are curious about how North Korea's leadership transition will influence the regional situation.

Focus on stability

"Stability" is the word that experts use the most when talking about Kim's death. The outside world hopes to see a smooth power transition in North Korea, and hopes North Korea can play an active role in promoting regional stability in the future.

Stability also is China's sincere wish for North Korea. After Kim Jong Il's death was announced on December 19, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China immediately sent a message of condolence to North Korea. The next day, Chinese leaders headed by President Hu Jintao visited the North Korean Embassy in Beijing to offer condolences.

These actions passed two messages to North Korea. One was to express China's condolences for North Korea leader's death and the other clearly stated that China will stick to its consistent strategy of constantly cementing and developing the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two sides. China hopes to jointly promote a friendly relationship with North Korea in the future.

History proves that friendly cooperation between China and North Korea is of special significance to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, China expressed its wishes for a successful transfer of power in North Korea and for long-term stability on the peninsula.

North Korea's domestic politics has made a stable power transfer possible. In fact, although Kim Jong Il's death came suddenly, the top leader had made thorough arrangements for his possible death when he was alive. No power vacuum will actually happen. The process of power succession will be natural, smooth and steady, because in spite of the youth of Kim Jong Un, the whole leadership group is experienced and mature. Meanwhile, the new leaders need to straighten the country's internal relationships and map out its future in a stable domestic environment. So stability will be the keynote of North Korea in the months to come.

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