SEOUL, South Korea –– North Korea said Friday that it has agreed to multilateral talks on its suspected development of nuclear weapons but will push for one-on-one talks with the United States during the proposed negotiations.
Stephen Blank says China is leaning on North Korea.
On repeated occasions Chinese spokesmen have publicly and clearly warned their US interlocutors that under no circumstances would the United States be allowed unilaterally to decide the fate of the Korean Peninsula. China will not be passive or quiet and thus will act, quite strongly if necessary, to safeguard its interests and equities in Korea. That warning could easily signify a willingness to use force either against the Americans or, as some China specialists have warned, against North Korea's territory to prevent Washington from fashioning a unilateral solution that would place its troops on or close to China's border. Since this war could easily become a nuclear one and the Korean War itself was a sufficiently horrible experience for all concerned, these are hardly easily acceptable options. Yet if North Korea is metaphorically tied to China, its decision to go over the cliff inevitably drags China along with it, something Beijing is naturally reluctant to accept. Therefore Beijing is exerting every effort to persuade Pyongyang to enter into genuine negotiations with Washington before its nuclearization becomes an issue to be settled exclusively by the deployment of troops.
But as CNN Senior China Analyst Willy Wo-Lap Lam points out, China has maintained all along that it could not pressure North Korea as long as the US was improving its military capability in the neighborhood.
A commentary in the official China News Service on Tuesday said Washington's recent deployment of high-tech, rapid-response units in South Korea was an effort to "put more military pressure on North Korea." The Chinese leadership has all along indicated it can only exert pressure on North Korea if the U.S. were to de-escalate military preparations against the Kim regime.
The Chinese were posturing. The determination of the Bush Administration to maintain a hardline stance against North Korea - the very position that the Chinese maintained was counterproductive - forced the Chinese to decide they had to start leaning on North Korea. The US and its allies can not put enough pressure on North Korea to force the Pyongyang regime to cry uncle as long as China continues to support North Korea. The game is really between the US and China. Can the Bush Administration convince the Chinese that the US will take really radical steps if the Chinese do not intervene? That is what this game is about at this point.
Update: In my view, the only effective way to pressure the Chinese to cut off aid to North Korea would be to make full scale preparations for war against North Korea. A big air power build-up, carrier deployments, and deployments of Army and Marine divisions would make it clear to the Chinese that either they deal with the problem or we deal with the problem.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 August 04 12:15 AM Korea|