Monday, 15 April 2013

N. Korea under restraint by China

China knows when to mount pressure on the DPRK and tell its ally what to do for the sake of its Asian neighbours’ interests in the region, say Chinese political analysts.

North Korea nuclear weapons could hit ....

TALKS that China has lost its influence on North Korea have emerged again as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is reported to be ready to launch a missiles attack on the Korean Peninsula.

The standard calm reaction and seemingly lack of action against DPRK by China have been the reasons why the international community feels that the China factor in the DPRK administration is fading.

But, China is not a country that one should underestimate. China knows when to mount pressure on DPRK and tell its ally what to do for the sake of its Asian neighbours’ interests in the region, said Chinese political analysts.

Historically, China and DPRK established solid strategic relations and partnership when the former entered the Korean War in support of DPRK in 1950.

During the war between 1950 and 1953, China sent as many as three million volunteer soldiers to assist the DPRK forces fight the Americans and South Koreans in the name of United Nations on the peninsula.

About 180,000 Chinese soldiers, including Mao Zedong’s son Mao Anying, were killed.

Since the end of the war, China and DPRK have continued their cooperation in security and defence issues. But in recent years, China has turned more of a peacemaker instead when tension occurs between North and South Korea.

In the Takung Pao newspaper’s editorial, veteran political analyst and The International Chinese Newsweekly correspondent Ji Shuoming said DPRK intentionally flexed its muscles to wage war in retaliation of a recent joint South Korea-United States military exercise.

He said the tension on the peninsula had been escalating with the North Koreans telling ambassadors, diplomats and tourists in South Korea to evacuate, as their forces were prepared to launch their missiles.

“At the UN Security Council meeting (in March), in a rare decision, China voted in favour of new sanctions on North Korea in view of its nuclear weapon tests. This has somehow caused North Korea’s hostility against China.

“North Korea is going too far by dragging itself to the edge of a war. The US, South Korea and Japan hope that China will restrain North Korea but some people say China has not been able to restrain North Korea anymore.

The Chinese leaders and the Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper recently sent out a clear message to North Korea, and this shows that China still has a degree of influence over North Korea,” he said.

Ji said that in past conflicts, China would talk about brotherhood and defend North Korea and this had made its ally a spoiled kid and had made it difficult to fundamentally solve the problem.

Today, China has chosen a more international approach. When North Korea goes against the international regulations, China will firmly safeguard the international interests. But this does not mean that China has lost its influence and it’s just that it is assessing the pros and cons of the influence, Ji added.

Nankai University International Relations Department Associate Prof Yang Lei was quoted by Global Times as saying that in the past, North Korea employed the approach of causing tension and then implying the possibility of dialogue and negotiation after achieving its target.

“North Korea continuously escalates its offensive rhetoric to draw the attention of the international community. It hopes that surrounding countries can get involved and provide a way to ease the situation,” he said.

He said China was adjusting its policy on North Korea according to the changing US and South Korean policies on North Korea but China could still continue to impose necessary sanctions on North Korea to make its ally aware of the importance of outside help and the strategic Chinese support.

“Such pressure should push North Korea to ease relations with South Korea.

“Then the next step for China is to persuade North Korea and South Korea to hold dialogue and offer North Korea a way out,” he said.

In its editorial, China Daily said the situation on the peninsula was dangerous and any miscalculation by any party might prove disastrous to the region.

The newspaper said Pyongyang might have adequate reasons to demonstrate its security concerns that was entitled to enhance its national defence and develop its science and technology, but it had no excuse either to defy the UN resolution requiring it to drop its nuclear programme.

“The tactic (employed by North Norea) is dangerous ... As a close neighbour of the two Koreas, China will not allow troublemaking at its doorstep.

“The message is loud and clear that it opposes any move to resolve the dispute by force,” it said.

MADE IN CHINA By CHOW HOW BAN

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