Tom Spender

Freelance journalist in London

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North Korea puts pressure on China

November 23rd, 2010 · 1 Comment · China, Rest of Asia

(interview starts at 1 min 20)

Because China is North Korea’s only ally, incidents such as today’s deadly shelling by North Korea of a South Korean island also ramp up pressure on Beijing. Many observers find it difficult to understand why Beijing appears to be propping up one of the world’s worst dictatorial regimes.

“At what point would North Korea’s action merit massive military retaliation? And how long can China go along with this?” tweeted one commentator.

And Tomohiko Taniguchi, Japanese ex-foreign affairs spokesman told BBC World Service pressure will mount on China to get tougher on North Korea.

I asked Professor Jia Qingguo, associate dean at Peking University’s School of International Studies, about China’s North Korea dilemma in an interview during the summer. The interview starts at 1 min 20 in the video above and is (in my view) interesting.

Prof Jia said China doesn’t do gung-ho interventionism in the American manner – it is not as confident that it can effect the outcome it desires. Further, China hopes that its own rise will influence North Korea to choose a les confrontational path concentrating on economic development and has nothing against eventual peaceful reunification. In any case (Jia says), China has limited influence over the Kim regime in Pyongyang.

A couple of lines from the BBC’s live blog on the subject:

1030: Tomohiko Taniguchi, Japanese ex-foreign affairs spokesman tells BBC World Service: “Diplomacy has got to stop. The six-party dialogue framework is already history – that much is for certain.” He says pressure will mount on China to get tougher on North Korea.

1131: BBC defence and security correspondent Nick Childs says a key strategic calculation is that Seoul is within North Korean artillery range. Some 700,000 South Korean military personnel face more than a million in the North, with millions more reserves on both sides. And then there’s the presence of some 30,000 US personnel in the South, meant as a deterrent to Pyongyang and a reassurance to Seoul.

1104: Dong Wook-kim in Seoul says: “I’m a soldier in the South Korean Army. I live in Seoul, but my military camp is located on the frontline with North Korea. I have to go back to my camp tomorrow so I am quite worried and anxious about this crisis. South Korean people are very angry. South Korea and the world have been giving a lot of chances to North Korea but they are always arrogant and attack South Korea. We must punish them. They are threatening world peace.”

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