James M. Zimmerman: China’s North Korean Quandary

In the International Herald Tribune, James M. Zimmerman, a Beijing-based international lawyer, writes about U.S. efforts to get Beijing to impose sanctions on North Korea for the sinking of the South Korean ship the Cheonan:

China has predictably called for restraint while North Korea denies any involvement in the sinking of the South Korean vessel, although an international investigation implicates the North. But now that Seoul has cut off all trade, exchanges and aid to the North, there is significant pressure on Beijing to take concrete action.

China is not indifferent to what is now characterized as the worst attack since the 1953 armistice ended the Korean War. Yet China is and has been going down a path different from what the West is prepared for, and the message from Beijing is that it will stay with carrots rather than sticks.

The best the West can hope for is that the Chinese will coax Pyongyang into behaving in a responsible manner. That may be unsatisfactory for the West, but it is altogether consistent with Beijing’s long-term interests.

May 25, 2010 2:05 AM
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