Neo-colonialism in south-south relations?: The case of China and North Korea

Lee, Jong-Woon and Gray, Kevin (2016) Neo-colonialism in south-south relations?: The case of China and North Korea. Development and Change, 47 (2). pp. 293-316. ISSN 0012-155X

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The past decade has seen the rapid expansion of economic ties between China and North Korea, leading to questions of whether this emerging relationship resembles neo-colonialism or a more positive form of South-South cooperation. We argue that China's engagement is driven in the first instance by strategic considerations, namely the maintenance of the geopolitical status quo on the Korean peninsula. However, North Korea has also become increasingly important in terms of Beijing's aims of revitalising its northeastern region, and as such, economic relations are becoming increasingly market-led. Though this mode of engagement bares similarities with China's engagement elsewhere in the developing world, North Korea's catastrophic economic decline in the 1990s largely preceded the more recent revival of relations with China. We argue therefore that bilateral relations between the two countries cannot usefully be regarded as “neo-colonial” since North Korea is receiving much needed trade and investment from China within the context of broader international isolation. As such, we suggest that more attention needs to be paid to how geopolitical specificities influence the manner in which South-South cooperation shapes the possibilities of development, and that the dichotomous terrain of the existing debate between optimistic and pessimistic viewpoints is unhelpful.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.) > JQ0021 Asia > JQ1499 East Asia Including China, Japan, Korea
Depositing User: Kevin Gray
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2016 08:14
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 10:30

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