Kim Jong Il’s death leaves starkly different reactions from India and China. A friend and ally of China, North Korea continues to be viewed as a country which supplies military materials to India’s neighbors – Pakistan and China. While India and North Korea maintain pleasantries and diplomatic ties with an embassy in each others capitals, the relationship isn’t as warm as China-North Korean ties.
On the day that Kim Jong Il passed, China Daily’s headline read “A friends departure”, following which a statement by the communist party said “a great leader of the (North Korean) people and a close friend of the Chinese people.” A day later, President Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao, along with other high-ranking officials, visited the North Korean Embassy in Beijing to offer their condolences.
China which shares a border with the DPRK is an important source of food and fuel to the communist nation. Further to build friendly neighborly ties, Beijing is hoping to cultivate warmer relations with Kim Jong Il’s third son and successor. A strong ally against South Korea which has partnered with the US, China has given North Korea and her leaders unconditional economic and diplomatic support over the last several years.
Meanwhile, New Delhi is watching the DPRK carefully to discern how the new leader and his government act toward Pakistan and China, their stance towards North Korea will be deflected accordingly. India MEA’s chief spokesman, Vishnu Prakash, will early next year become India’s ambassador to South Korea, where the relationship with North Korea will surely take up much of his time. India has a strategic partnership with Seoul as a way of keeping North Korea in check. It does not play any role in six-party talks begun in 2003 and led by the U.S. in an attempt to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.