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PacNet #55R – South Korean Debates on China’s North Korea Policy: Is President Park Listening?

Ren Xiao (China Debates DPRK Policy, PacNet #55) provides insightful and informative analysis of the three schools of Chinese scholars and foreign policy-makers, and even the leaders of the People’s Liberation Army, regarding the future of China’s ties with Kim Jung-un’s unstable and unpredictable regime. China’s North Korea policy is at a crossroads, and Ren’s assessment seems to revolve around the concept of a Middle Kingdom mentality in China. Let me give some idea of the South Korean view of these matters. As Ren points out, two issues are prompting the Chinese leaders to seriously review their special relationship with Pyongyang: Kim’s regime has undermined China’s policy for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula by conducting nuclear tests and nuclear blackmail, and has also made rhetorical threats and real military provocations against South Korea. China is concerned that such misbehavior helps justify the US rebalance to the Korean Peninsula, despite defense budget constraints.