China Will Not Help
Is anyone really surprised that the People’s Republic of China today stymied the free world’s effort to levy UN sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Some in the media, of course, have been wildly speculating that China had finally had enough of its troublesome client’s bluster and brinkmanship. Since North Korea set off what it claims was an atomic bomb test Monday, the press has fallen all over itself to minimize the power of the explosion, and talking up the idea that China would now be more willing to cooperate with the United States and Japan to resolve the nuclear crisis.
Instead, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao indicated that his country would not support sanctions. He relayed China’s position that the world should “express clearly to North Korea that ... the international community is opposed to this nuclear test,” as if Kim Jong Il’s confrontational regime had not previously been aware of such opposition. In fact, this is just the same old Chinese passive aggressive subversion of freedom that we should have come to recognize by now. Sure, the People’s Republic couches its language in the terminology of diplomacy, but the practical result of its unceasing support of the DPRK has been to sustain a murderous regime, menace South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, tie up American military assets, and prolong the crisis for as long as possible. This serves China’s strategic interests while it allows them to appear to the Third World as a non-interfering power that offers the best guarantee against Western bullying thanks to its Security Council veto. After all, as long as China sits on the Council, no two-bit tyrant need worry about the world body taking any serious action against him – assuming he has something to offer the Chinese, say oil, or in the case of North Korea, a well armed buffer against a liberal democracy.
Some people, particularly on the left, seem unaware that China and North Korea have been the very closest of allies for more than 50 years. China sent its own soldiers to fight and die on Korean soil when the UN forces threatened to wipe out the communist regime in 1950 and 1951. While the DPRK’s on-again-off –again intimacy with the Russians sometimes antagonized China, never has the People’s Republic cut off its Korean client. Too strong are the ties of blood shed together, not to mention lock-step political loyalty.
China will NEVER get tough on North Korea as long as its interests lie in preserving Kim’s regime. Only when the Chinese see that the rest of the world, particularly the United States, will no longer trade with China, and will prepare for war with China itself, will the Chinese even consider changing tactics. Until then, we are deluding ourselves if we believe they are partners in trying to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.