U.S., China, DPRK, South Korea, Japan
Middle East is not the only messed up region in world. South East Asia and East Asia are not far behind. China and India are rising powers. Although, Chinese defense budget is still only 1/6 of ours, in spite of their largely surplus national budgets, China has been strengthening its defense, a lot. It has started to claim its supremacy in the region, to some extent. India is China’s long time enemy and a neighbor. Russia is not very friendly, either. South Korea and Japan are strong U.S. allies harboring U.S. military bases. North Korea basically buffers China from U.S. allies. China also imports desperately needed minerals from North Korea.
Japan’s conflicts with china has a very long history. There is a very significant territory on land, water and in air which is claimed by both countries. In past, when japan was a much bigger power, it caused lots of damage and bloodshed in China. Japan has a very long history of aggression and brutality, especially against Chinese. So, Chinese concerns are not totally baseless. They have not forgotten the Sino-Japanese wars, yet. Japan caused lots of damages and loss of lives in World War II, too. China does not want South Koreans and Japanese knocking on its doors, if North Korea falls.
North Korea is one of last remnants of highly dictatorial socialist and communist regimes. The human rights situation is awful and economy and finances cannot survive without China’s assistance. At the same time, North Korea has some legitimate security concerns, too. It has unfriendly South Korea and Japan in its neighbor. United Sates has defense pacts with Japan and South Korea. The actual U.S. military presence and bases in those countries is viewed as a threat to North Korea. North Korea has also witnessed the fate of Gaddafi, after he gave up nuclear program, although he was our ally.
South Korea has much better economy and is a Democratic country. But, it is a U.S. ally and harbors U.S. military bases. Being a North Korean neighbor and in the backyard of China, it poses a threat to both countries. Its better economy and better civil rights situation is also a great point of attraction for North Korean population. Many of them are always trying to run away to South Korea. North Korea also fears that someday its citizens may revolt in the favor of South Korea. North and South Koreans have same cultural roots, very much like East and West Germany.
Of course, U.S. wants to police the whole world. I really get surprised when most Americans show their annoyance on Chinese concerns over increasing U.S. presence in the region. Most Americans, also, do not understand why China supports North Korea. The simple answer is, contrary to us, this is their backyard. If we can feel our interests getting threatened by developments thousands of miles away from us, why China can’t be alarmed by those. We want to protect Japan and South Korea on any cost. China wants to protect North Korea in the same way and for similar reasons.
North Korean regime has a strong belief that in the midst of all that they have to have nuclear arms. They do not want to make any compromise on the possession of those weapons. They seem to be a little open about how much, though? U.S. and its allies do not want to negotiate on how much. They believe that North Korea should not have any nuclear weapons. This is what actually creates the deadlock in negotiations. China also seems to be complacent about North Korea having some nuclear capabilities. But, China is now getting jitters with ever growing nuclear capabilities of North Korea.
China has tried to stop North Korea from ongoing tests on nuclear weapons. But, North Korean regime has been very stubborn even to their most important ally, absolutely necessary for their survival. China seems to be finally smelling a cooking trouble in its backyard. China’s history shows that they keep themselves away from armed conflicts, as much as possible. China has indirectly warned North Korea that there will be consequences for its continued defiance. Recently, world saw the first practical and critical step taken by China in this regard. Chinese president Xi Jinping recently visited South Korea and totally neglected North Korea in this process.
With smart, seasoned and experienced diplomat like Jinping this cannot be a coincidence or mistake. He definitely did that intentionally. He, for sure, wanted to send a clear message to Pyongyang. If you do not comply, we are ready for a policy change. Keeping the importance of China in mind, this could be a shake up for North Korean regime. On the other hand Kim is very egoistic. This may or may not make him change his policies, and to start complying. On the flip side of it, this is very good opportunity for U.S. and its allies.
Although very hard, under the circumstances, it may not be impossible to convince China to really and truly start participating in sanctions against North Korea. This change in Chinese policy could be very effective but has its own flip side. The hungry lion can go out on rampage to eat up and destroy its neighbor, South Korea. You never know, how far a crazy regime, collapsing under sanctions, can go. Although, losing China’s support could be an end to financially bankrupt Kim’s regime. In order to pursue China for this policy change, we may have to face a demand to withdraw all our military from the region and close all military bases.
For me, this is a very good price to pay to get rid of a nuclear armed, dangerous regime. It will save lots of money for our tax payers and bring lots of troops back to their families. Only question is expanding and growing, military and economic myth of China. But, in reality, this is not even a question. China has neighboring Russia and India. They will take care of it, for us, free. What could be better than free? Let’s just bring some common sense and diplomacy to our war driven, crazy, corporate controlled, expensive and dangerous foreign policy.