May 20, 2010
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is considered an international pariah in most nations, but he was welcomed with open arms in China May 3-7. The visit underscored North Korea’s isolation: Kim’s last foreign visit in 2006 was also to China. Despite approving tough United Nations sanctions after Pyongyang’s second nuclear test, Beijing continues to provide energy and food assistance to the North that remains indispensible for the regime’s survival. Yet, even with China’s help, there are growing signs of economic and political volatility in the DPRK and the risks of instability—including regime collapse — cannot be ruled out.