Why China Is Not the Solution to the Korean Crisis

North KoreaAs tensions on Korean Peninsula have grown, much of the relevant conversation within the United States has focused on China, one nation that, according to many American policymakers, can control the North Korean leadership. “China does hold the key to this problem,” explained Senator McCain, who described the Chinese “failure to rein in what could be a known catastrophic situation,” as “disappointing.” Other policymakers and media outlets agree. And this thinking is fundamentally flawed on numerous levels. To begin with, it abdicates American leadership, deferring to a rival in an area of great strategic and economic interest. It also embraces facile solutions at a time when difficult decisions are needed. The U.S. may not have many good options on Korean peninsula, but the nation’s long-term interests require its leaders to make some hard choices, rather than fall back on rhetorical nostrums that distract and delay without offering any substantive vision. Most significantly, however, the current approach suffers from a fundamentally flawed understanding of true nature of Sino-North Korean relationship. Over past decade, the world has finally begun to gain insights into DPRK policymaking, largely through the materials obtained from former communist bloc states, most of which have been collected by N. Korea International Documentation Project. On a most basic level, these materials do confirm China has been both North Korea’s most consistent ally and vital provider of assistance in many forms. At the same time, these archival documents also suggest Sino-North Korean relationship has always been much more complex than Mao’s famous claim that nations were “as close as lips and teeth” suggests. These new materials point to 4 additional aspects of relationship that policymakers must also consider. They suggest, first, that the alliance is rooted in strategic self-interest rather than strong fraternal or ideological bonds; second, that the closeness of the relationship has waxed and waned dramatically based on changing internal conditions and evolving international environment; third, that DPRK leaders have often seen China as too expansionist, too assertive, too unreliable to be fully trusted; finally, that throughout the past half-century, DPRK leadership has firmly and consistently resisted Chinese efforts to influence their policymaking. These realities were on display as early as Korean War. In the months preceding the North’s surprise attack against South Korea in 1950, China strongly discouraged DPRK from launching a military campaign and refused Kim Il Sung’s suggestions for greater intelligence collaboration. A resentful Kim then failed to provide China with information about his war preparations, and did not even send a representative to brief the Chinese until three days after the attack. Mao was furious, venting that, “They are supposed to be our next-door neighbor, but they did not consult with us before taking military action, they did not even notify us of the outbreak of the war until now.” The Chinese, of course, later intervened to save the North, but they did so because of the Soviet pressure and a desire to protect and expand their own influence, not because of any genuine commitment to Kim. For his part, Kim was reluctant to accept Chinese as equal partners for a fear of sacrificing his political control, leading to tensions over strategy and decisions ranging from organization of military command through control of railroads to the specific tactics to be implemented. In these cases, Kim almost always had to defer to Chinese, given his need for their military support and Josef Stalin’s frequent interventions on Chinese side. Nevertheless, Kim clearly resented the way the great powers made critical decisions without regard to his wishes, steadily fought against allowing his patrons to control internal matters, and constantly sought to minimize Chinese influence (…..)

Link: http://thediplomat.com/2013/05/31/why-china-is-not-the-solution-to-the-korean-crisis/

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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