Still, Jang’s execution isn’t expected to bring major, immediate changes in a relationship that has been remarkably consistent over the many decades since China sent troops to save the North Korean regime from extinction in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Wang Junsheng, a North Korea watcher at the government’s Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said relations might even benefit since the move leaves Kim in a stronger position than ever to guide North Korea’s ties with Beijing, the strengthening of which benefits both sides.
“Kim has now finished consolidating his power and doesn’t need to take drastic change in his foreign policy. Jang was merely a person who offered advice and implemented policy,” Wang said.
China’s response to Jang’s dramatic purging has been extremely low-key, emphasizing that the issue is North Korea’s internal affair and expressing its hopes for stability and economic development.
As with South Korea, the US and other interested parties, Beijing is struggling to analyze the current state of affairs in Pyongyang and ascertain Kim’s positions on key topics.