As I'm typing this (8AM), we still don't have the "major announcement" from Communist China's Korean colony. Given that this "announcement" comes after its succeeded in bring the Bush Administration to heel (Agence France Presse via Breitbart, BBC, CNN, and a very detailed and cogent One Free Korea), most expect something on Kim Jong-il's health, or lack thereof.
Clearly, the Zhongnanhai clique assumed something big was in the works, since they chose today to mention that their economy shifted into a lower gear (BBC and BBC again), not to mention the conviction of the former Vice-Mayor of Beijing for corruption (BBC and the Washington Post).
The announcement - whatever it is - is not really relevant, even if it's to reveal KJI's death. In fact, Communist China has already tightened its grip on the Korean colony, Kim or no Kim. If anything Kim's would-be successors would merely confirm what keen-eyed observers have already noticed.
The Korean colony isn't the only place where the cadres are strengthening their position. Nominal American ally Pakistan continues to get "help" from Beijing (BBC), all but ensuring the nation that supposedly must be cooperative to win the War on Terror will listening far more to Hu Jintao than to whomever the American people elect to the White House.
This shouldn't surprise anyone. If anything, the slowing economy means Beijing needs its anti-American allies more than ever. Without the radical nationalism on which the regime has built its legitimacy after the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, all the regime would have to show for its rule are corrupt cadres, persecuted truth-tellers (Epoch Times), internet crackdowns (Between Heaven and Earth), and a health care system that makes its socialist slogans laughable (BBC). Even its attempts at "reform" - such as with farmland (Washington Post) - are merely piecemeal actions that don't address the biggest issue: the fact that all land is still owned by the Chinese Communist Party, which they can use and repeatedly have used to enrich its members at the expense of the Chinese people.
Replacing one Korean viceroy with another may provide some distraction from these realities, but it will not change them.
Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal