Foreign Policy: Time For China To Act In North Korea

From Foreign Policy and U.S. National Public Radio:

For nearly a decade, the United States has attempted to invest Beijing with a sense of responsibility for solving the North Korea problem. As the country with the most at stake and the most influence over the issue, China should take the lead. While hosting the Six Party Talks on denuclearizing North Korea, China has graciously provided hundreds of lunches to diplomats, but utterly failed to take any of the tough actions necessary to bring about real change in North Korea.

Beijing fears instability, and rightly so. Military confrontations, refugee flows, and political turmoil are all to be avoided. But it is time China made a choice between a failed and cruel regime, and a modern, peaceful, and prosperous Korean Peninsula. The United States can stipulate that democratic reunification of Korea would diminish the need for U.S. ground forces — and certainly not motivate any movement of U.S. troops toward China’s border with Korea. It would also lessen imperatives for regional missile defenses and closer U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan — providing strategic reassurance to Beijing. Advance planning and coordination on refugee flows, economic dislocations, nuclear proliferation, and security issues would mitigate the dangers of instability.

On the other hand, if China continues to abet North Korea, if it refuses to use its influence in productive ways, it should expect no further help in the form of international ransom payments to Pyongyang. If Beijing seeks to block effective action by other nations — as it can do by wielding its veto as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council — responding to North Korea’s demands should become Beijing’s problem exclusively.

June 17, 2010 5:39 PM
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