8: China’s role
The Chinese do not want the North Korean regime to collapse. Not out of love for a communist neighbor, for the Juche ideology rejects Marxism-Leninism and prescribes economic, cultural and ideological independence. The regime also engages in a bizarre cult of personality around the Kim family.
The Chinese support the regime because they do not want American forces closer to them. North Korea is a buffer. If the regime collapses, it can also create chaos and refugee flows that will cost them dearly. China does not say no to any idea of reunification, but it must take place in an orderly manner that safeguards Chinese interests. The North Koreans are not to be trusted there, because they have indicated that they can accept American forces also in a reunited Korea – implicitly, because it will reduce dependence on China.
The Chinese like the regime in North Korea as little as many others, and every time they warn the country in vain to test rockets and nuclear charges, without being heard, they lose face. In 2010, however, China refused to criticize North Korea for torpedoing the South Korean corvette Cheonan and protecting Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. On several occasions, they have stepped up criticism of North Korea and voted in favor of the Security Council’s resolutions in which they previously abstained.
The new Chinese leader Xi Jinping has expressed support for his northern neighbor, like his predecessors, and economic relations have developed rapidly. In the period 2007−2011, trade between the two countries tripled. Other parts of the economic community are increased Chinese investment in North Korea, new free trade zones, and the construction of roads and ports for mutual benefit.
In recent years, North Korea has experienced moderate economic growth. Several prudent market elements have been introduced. More private production and sales have yielded results. However, there is no talk of a breakthrough for either the market economy or growth, and there are reports of continued food shortages and malnutrition in the spring of 2013.
Kim Jong-un has repeatedly said he wants to improve living standards in North Korea. If he manages to secure his position and gain legitimacy among the military through successful missile and nuclear tests and a bold foreign policy, he may be able to reduce his huge defense budget and continue on the path of reform.
9: Impacts on International Policy in East Asia
According to HEALTH-BEAUTY-GUIDES.COM, trade with Russia is virtually zero. The political relationship is correct, but rather meaningless. South Korea fluctuates in its attitude towards the brothers in the north. The policy of sunshine at the turn of the century was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but was given the slippery slope by George Bush jr.
Under President Lee (2008-2012), relations were bleak, and the sinking of Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong heightened tensions. Before she took office in 2013, President Park Geun-hye announced a more co-operative policy again, but the latest North Korean initiatives make the continuation uncertain.
After the sinking of Cheonan, South Korea severed economic ties with the North. An exception was the Kaesong Industrial Park, which provides North Korea with a welcome annual income in hard currency. South Korea allowed this activity to continue for the sake of stability on the peninsula. In addition, they see the park as a bridgehead for market reforms in the north.
South Korea has one common historical interest with Japan : Clarifying the history of hundreds of Japanese and Koreans abducted by North Korea. In everything else, the story, ie the Japanese occupation history, is still a great burden for the relationship between them. Both are allied with the United States, but on the same team only through the United States. The shadows of history are long in this part of the world.
For the United States , alliances with Japan and South Korea are fundamental to the entire Asia strategy. The policy towards North Korea is only a limited part of it. Relations with China are the main issue. For the country with the global leader jersey, the United States, the second country – the country closest to the international hierarchy of power – is the problem, the challenge and possibly the enemy. Country number two is China. Other states are paying close attention to this rivalry. The pattern is that satisfied countries join the leader – the hegemon. Dissatisfied people rather side with the challenger. Japan and South Korea are, if not satisfied, relatively comfortable in their partnership with the United States.
China is exercising geopolitical counterweight through its growing military footprint in the region, through cooperation with Pakistan, and by establishing bases along the supply route from the Middle East. At the same time, the Chinese are trying to curb unrest over their own growth by cultivating cooperation for mutual benefit – harmony is a word that is often used. The smaller countries in Southeast Asia are cooperating more and more with China without breaking ties with the United States, not because they are afraid of China, but because it is in their own best interest.
In this context, where the hegemon and the challenger feel each other’s teeth, the nuclear-possessed, Stalinist and provocative regime in Pyongyang can be used to strengthen the dam against China. When it comes to coordination with North Korea, it should not always be taken literally; the concrete measures may as well be intended against China .