By Riddhi Tyagi
North Korea has launched another missile over Japan, a day after it threatened to “sink” the country and turn the US “into ashes and darkness”. Friday’s launch was the longest-ever such flight carried out by the rogue regime, and travelled 3,700km – 800km further than the previous launch over Japan, in August (source).
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, slammed the launch as “utterly unacceptable”:
“If North Korea continues to walk this road, there will be no bright future. We need to get North Korea to understand that.”
Although there has been no formal reply from Trump, the U.S Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has expressed that China and Russia must take “direct actions” to deter Kim. North Korea is heavily funded by these two countries in oil and labour, and hence such a statement is crucial to bring North Korea in control. It is time China and Russia put more pressure on Kim Jong-un.
However Beijing is yet to officially respond, and Chinese experts believe that significant new steps are out of question, that they would not view Friday’s launch as a significant escalation.
Where does this belief come from, and why on earth does China still support North Korea? Of course, the two countries share history, but is China being delusional about North Korea and the harm they could do to the world? Why is it, that despite North Korea’s nuclear desires, China and its relations have still remained stable?
To understand their relations one must sit back and take a look at China’s relations with other fellow countries. China and U.S being the first one, disagree on quite a lot of areas like human rights, IPR, currency, military relations. While China and Japan disagree over history and Senkaku Islands. China and India, well, have border disputes. Any major disagreement is, however, absent between China and North Korea.
China “is the umbilical cord that keeps North Korea alive,” Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations has observed.
Be it communism, the Korean War, the joint struggle against the Americans, the two countries share a lot in common. One might say that North Korea is in one way the China under Mao, but it is important to understand that China has come quite far since then and has established itself as a country which is not just some communist state. It has transformed massively from the days of the Cold War.
Then why does China keep them alive? An understandable theory could be, that the fall of North Korea would be very unpredictable, something China would want to avoid (especially if it comes to refugees). Also, China has its way of doing things; it never intervened in the Korean War until US forces threatened to invade China. China also would only take steps if it believes it would not bring them under fire.
China cannot be considered the centre of the balance of power in Asia in terms of power but it definitely counts in terms of damage potential. In a situation where South Korea, Japan and U.S have allied, if China doesn’t support North Korea, and if in future the two Koreas would unify as we would assume, it would lead to the creation of a new alarming power in the region. Something that China refuses to digest and become a reality. It might also lead to U.S being able to control China’s ambitions.
Which, right now, both China and North Korea collectively aim at, that is, to keep U.S out of the region of North Korea and destabilize its influence therein.
Only a great deal of bargain between the U.S and China can stop the erratic behaviour of North Korea and hopefully bring an end to the long allied forces China and North Korea.
Image Credits: Google Images