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7 - Dependency in Chinese–North Korean Relations?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 September 2021

Kevin Gray
Affiliation:
University of Sussex
Jong-Woon Lee
Affiliation:
Hanshin University, South Korea
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Summary

In chapter seven, we examine the more direct material impact of the rise of China on the North Korean economy. This is examined through the lens of the broader debate regarding the impact of China’s rise on developing countries. We argue that while North Korea’s trade relations with China do resemble the resource dependency found in many Global South countries, North Korea has in recent years become increasingly integrated into cross-border regional production networks, with textile manufacturing being outsourced to North Korean producers as well as the growing dispatch of North Korean labour to China as a result of ongoing economic shifts within China itself. Although this relationship can be conceptualised as a form of economic dependency, North Korea’s economic collapse in the 1990s preceded its growing economic relations with China. In this sense, China has played an important facilitative role in North Korea’s economic recovery following the 1990s. However, concerns with the North Korean leadership regarding import dependency on China have in recent years led to a policy emphasis on domestic import substitution, a strategy that has had some success, albeit at relatively low levels of production.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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