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UPDATED: December 26, 2011 NO. 52 DECEMBER 29, 2011
A Constructive Approach

The sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il not only has taken some world leaders, and Northeast Asia in particular, by surprise, but has also sparked widespread speculation about the fate of the country, as well as the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Jong Il has led North Korea for exactly 17 years. He was a highly esteemed and beloved leader in his country. This was due to his tireless efforts to work for the interests of North Korea, to his deep concern for the people, his firm character to face up to hardships, such as the isolating sanctions imposed by some Western countries, and also to his daring courage to fight against power politics and resist external interference.

The former North Korean leader was also warmly acclaimed as a far-sighted statesman seeking peace and unification for his motherland. Back in June 2000, he signed with the then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung in Pyongyang the historic North-South Joint Declaration, ending 55 years of hostilities between the two brotherly countries. Then, in August 2007, he held talks with Kim's successor Roh Moo Hyun, again in Pyongyang, with an eye to boosting communication and exchange on the Korean Peninsula. He ordered the opening of North Korean nuclear facilities to foreign media in February 2008 in an effort to defuse tensions and avert the threat of war in Northeast Asia. He also tried hard to mend North Korea's strained relations with the West by meeting dignitaries from Western countries and keeping up a dialogue mechanism with them. Before his death, North Korea called time and again for the resumption of the six-party talks.

As an old friend of China, Kim Jong Il dedicated himself to furthering traditional bilateral friendship and cooperative ties. He visited China seven times in the past decade. His last visit was made in August, when he conducted field studies on China's reform and opening-up policies in the hope of using China's successful experience to help build North Korea into a powerful and prosperous nation. Thanks to his efforts, the neighborly and strategic partnership between China and North Korea is as good as ever before. China will keep up its support for North Korea's development effort and peace-process initiative, and will continuously work for lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

This goal of regional peace, however, cannot be accomplished by China alone. In the wake of the death of the North Korean leader, a series of reactions have erupted around the world, a well-understood phenomenon given the delicate and complex political scenarios in Northeast Asia. At this sensitive and critical juncture, it is imperative that the countries concerned realize the key role North Korea can play in maintaining peace and security in the region. They should therefore adopt concerted measures to ensure a smooth and stable transition of leadership, and help the country get through its present difficulties. This seems to be a constructive approach that will work in the best interests of all the stakeholders.

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