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China is North Korea’s main foreign patron, providing energy and resources to the impoverished communist state. Chinese news reports recently suggested that China has seen some indicators that Mr. Kim is more likely than his father to take some steps at economic reform that Beijing has been pressing.

Following the Wang visit, Mr. Kim’s uncle, Jang Sang-taek, visited China. Mr. Jang is widely believed to be one of the most powerful figures in North Korea. Mr. Jang’s visit is believed to have focused on trade and economics with the goal of improving the dire economic conditions in North Korea.