China's state-run media urged its government Tuesday to make efforts for North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong-un, to visit Beijing "as soon as possible" for the North's long-term stability and bilateral relations after Kim purged his powerful uncle.
The purge of Jang Song-thaek, considered the second most powerful official in the North's hierarchy, marked the biggest political upheaval since the death of Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011 and the young leader's subsequent takeover.
The 67-year-old Jang has been widely viewed as a "reformer" among the Chinese leadership, and his dramatic fall is expected to take a toll for a slew of economic projects between Pyongyang and Beijing, said diplomatic sources in Beijing.
"Kim Jong-un is young, which can possibly become the country's decisive factor in promoting the nation to move forward," according to the editorial in China's official Global Times newspaper, which labeled the purge of Jang a "significant political event."
"China can exert the most influence on North Korea, while balancing its friendship with the country and opposing its nuclear weapons would be a test for China's diplomacy," it said.
"China should help bring about Kim Jong-un's visit to China as soon as possible, which will benefit the North's long-term stability and bilateral friendly ties," the editorial said.
Some analysts view Jang's purge as a sign that Kim, believed to be around 30, is further consolidating his grip on power, but others say that it could incite a power struggle in the North's hierarchy.
Wang Junsheng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told another official newspaper, the China Daily, that he sees more personnel shake-ups in North Korea's top elite.
"The purge shows a rearrangement of power is happening, and there will be more personnel changes in the country's top power structure," Wang was quoted as saying.
"Butthe move isn't likely to change the situation in the region, because Pyongyang's foreign policies represent a continuity since the young leader Kim Jong-un took office two years ago," Wang said.
China's foreign ministry described Monday the expulsion of Jang as an "internal affair" of North Korea.
Asked about how the purge of Jang would affect the situation in Northeast Asia, ministry spokesman Hong Lei replied, "This is an internal affair of the DPRK (North Korea)."
"As a friendly neighbor, we hope to see national stability, economic development and people living in happiness in the DPRK," Hong told at a regular briefing.
"China will stay committed to promoting its traditional, friendly and cooperative relationship with the DPRK," Hong added.