North Korea-China: Chang Song-taek (also, Jang Song Thaek) -- a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission which governs North Korea; also an uncle and chief advisor to Kim Jong-un --- is traveling to China this week with a delegation of 50 officials to revive bilateral economic cooperation, according to South Korean and Japanese press.
The talks will center on the development programs for Hwanggumpyong island, the Wihwa Islands and the Rajin-Songbong special economic zones, according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency.
Comment: Chinese enthusiasm for investing in the three development zones vanished after North Korea attempted its latest space launch in April. The official reasons for suspending investment is the Chinese determined that the three zones will not turn a profit for their investors.
A condition for renewed Chinese interest reportedly is a requirement for North Korea to invest more to build the infrastructure in the projects. Chang Song-taek's mission is to rekindle Chinese interest with the best ideas North Korean businessmen have to offer.
Beyond that, there are two other implications. This visit is a North Korean way of apologizing for having ignored Chinese advice to not try the space launch.
More importantly, this North Korean delegation is the first to look to China for economic advice on economic reform. In that respect, Chang Song-taek, the brother-in-law of Kim Chong-il, and Kim Jong-un appear to be overruling Kim Chong-il's steadfast rejection of the Chinese economic model as appropriate for North Korea.
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