Thursday, May 27, 2010

China Using Kid Gloves with North Korea, Wary of Kim Jong Il .

China has a big stake in the current military action N. Korea has taken against the South. South Korea and Japan, both are major trading partners with China, and both have a rational fear of the unstable government of Kim Jong Il. In addition, China fears an influx of millions of refugees across their mutual border in case of a destabilization of the North.

China is also afraid that their direct condemnation of N. Korea may result in a less than rational reaction from the North. My guess is that China is better equipped to judge the possible reaction to sanctions of N. Korea than Hillary Clinton. Let them play it out and see if war can be averted.

China wants to avoid a conflict on the Korean peninsula, and is concerned that taking South Korea’s side may provoke North Korea into further escalations and even lead to war, said Shen Dingli, vice dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

“North Korea is dying, and we can make things worse,” Shen said. “We have assumed North Korea is not a rational actor.”

China has a big stake in stability in Northeast Asia. Japan and South Korea are China’s third- and fourth-biggest trading partners after the European Union and the U.S., with combined two-way trade reaching $485.1 billion in 2009, Chinese customs figures show.

China’s two-way trade with North Korea, at $2.7 billion last year, is less than 1 percent of that total, even though the two countries share a 1,415-kilometer (880-mile) border and an alliance going back to China’s 1950 entry into the Korean War.

“If our region falls into chaos it will undermine the interests of all parties concerned,” Zhang said yesterday.
China May Shield North Korea as Lee, U.S. Seek Action on Ship

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