China is attempting to shore up political stability in North Korea following the death the country’s leader, Kim Jong-il, The New York Times reported. Former government officials and analysts say Beijing had been hoping that the North Korean leader would live another two or three years, in order to solidify the succession of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. It remains unclear whether the younger Kim will be able to overcome a challenge to his power and whether he will continue his father’s initiatives to increase trade with China. To guard against escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, China has maintained close diplomatic ties with North Korea despite its isolation. China and South Korea together account for 55-80% of North Korea’s trade, according to a paper published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a US-based think tank.