Stanley's blog

North Korea: China’s debate

I commend to you the International Crisis Group’s report of 2 November 2009. Its key conclusions are summarized below:

• “Our mindset has changed, but the length of our border has not” a high-level Chinese diplomat is quoted as saying. The border is 1 416km.
• China’s overriding interest remains peace and stability, with non-proliferation a secondary priority.
• Given its fear of régime implosion, or hundreds of thousand refugees streaming across the border, or the strategic consequences of a precipitous reunification with South Korea, Beijing continues to shield the DPRK from punitive measures, including stronger economic sanctions.
• China’s endorsement of UNSC Resolution 1874 and its sanctions régime is not a policy shift but due to Beijing’s aversion to being diplomatically isolated.
• China prefers to leave the nuclear issue to the US providing that it consults and shares information.
• Beijing’s balancing act between supporting a traditional ally and responding to its dangerous brinkmanship, has been made more difficult by the latest round of Pyongyang’s provocations, especially when combined with international pressure.

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