China and the Korean Peninsula: Beijing's Pyongyang Problem and Seoul Hope
Contributor(s)ASIA-PACIFIC CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES HONOLULU HI
KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
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AbstractChina aims to nurture a Korea that would accommodate China on major issues, maintain friendly bilateral relations, refrain from disapproved security cooperation with China s adversaries, and contribute to China s economic growth. Beijing and Seoul enjoy warming relations and great potential for economic cooperation. Based on current trends, the Chinese have reason to hope that in the long term Seoul will have a closer and stronger relationship with China than with the United States. Pyongyang remains a troublesome ally for China, refusing Chinese advice to commit itself to the Chinese model of economic liberalization and integration with the global economy, and seeking improved security through risky confrontational tactics such as developing a nuclear weapons program. Chinese strategists are more amenable than in the past to the idea of a united Korea under Seoul s control. The satisfactory and improving relationship with South Korea partly accounts for this, as does the growing conviction that China no longer needs a buffer state. Nevertheless, the Chinese generally fear the risks and uncertainties of the transition to a united Korea and are not inclined to campaign for a dramatic change in the status quo. Since the beginning of the North Korean nuclear crisis, Beijing has moved from a passive to an active and constructive role and has increased pressure on Pyongyang to reach a settlement with the United States. China s position, nevertheless, is not identical to Washington s and never will be. The consensus in the Chinese leadership is still opposed to overthrowing the Kim government. Publicly, Beijing does not support economic sanctions against North Korea and insists on concessions from the United States to address Pyongyang s security concerns. China interests in the crisis do not match those of the United States.