China may try to use North Korea to counter the US – Community News
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China may try to use North Korea to counter the US

Experts believe Beijing may come to view North Korea as leverage to challenge Washington’s position on multiple issues, including the US’s goal to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

“In the face of strong competition for power, China sees North Korea more than ever as a lever,” said Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center.

For example, if the US wants China to support additional sanctions against North Korea, “China probably won’t comply unless (the) US responds reciprocally on a number of other fronts,” she added.

Evans Revere, a former State Department official with extensive experience negotiating with North Korea, said: “Due to the deterioration of US-China relations, some in the PRC are likely to see the DPRK, which is China’s opposition against the US military presence in the region. , as a strategic asset, even if North Korea’s nuclear status makes the Chinese nervous.” “DPRK” stands for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and “PRC” stands for the official name of China, the People’s Republic of China.

Revere continued, “With the growth of the Sino-US rivalry, this view is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.”

China, like North Korea, wants to maintain “the absence of US troops near the Chinese border,” according to a Pentagon report on China released earlier this month. The US has approximately 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Patrick Cronin, the Hudson Institute’s chairman of Asia-Pacific security, says Beijing does not view North Korea’s nuclear weapons “as an asset” but that it “likes to abuse North Korea’s existence.” ” to divert attention from itself and “preserve the United States”. States facing multiple challenges.”

The VOA’s Korean Service called and emailed the Chinese embassy in Washington to comment on Beijing’s relationship with Pyongyang and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. There was no response.

rivalry between the US and China

The rivalry between Washington and Beijing has grown as China expands its global influence. Beijing is “ready to confront the United States and other countries in areas where interests differ,” the Pentagon report said.

Countering China’s military claim in the Indo-Pacific region, disconnecting global supply chains from Beijing, and maintaining rules-based international order were Washington’s top priorities in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first one-on-one virtual summit as their country’s leaders on Monday.

“The two leaders discussed the complex nature of relations between our two countries and the importance of responsible competition management” to “ensure competition does not turn into conflict,” the White House said. The two also discussed “key regional challenges, including the DPRK,” the White House said.

“I have no doubt that the US made it clear at the Biden-Xi meeting that it is determined to denuclearize the DPRK,” Revere said. “There is also no indication that Xi offered to cooperate with North Korea in exchange for US concessions in other areas. Previous Chinese statements suggested such compromises, and this kind of ‘deal’ would not sit well with Washington.”

Hours after the virtual meeting with Biden-Xi, Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, said the US and China should work closely on North Korea.

“We’ve seen a series of tests by North Korea,” Sullivan said Tuesday during a webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution. “The United States has indicated that we are willing to engage in good faith diplomacy if North Korea is willing to do the same, so coordination around that issue is also very important.”

North Korea has tested several missiles in recent months, including ballistic missiles launched by rail and submarines.

Different views on denuclearization

Experts also noted a diversion between Washington and Beijing in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“China clearly doesn’t share the same interest as the United States when it comes to denuclearization, Cronin said. And China’s recent moves to expand its own nuclear arsenal suggest it has other priorities.”

The Pentagon estimated that China could have 700 nuclear warheads by 2027 and 1,000 by 2030, according to its report.

According to Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, China’s priorities were “no war” in the Korean peninsula, “no collapse” of the North Korean regime that could trigger the influx of refugees into China, and “no nuclear weapons.” “. By contrast, the US priorities were “no nuclear weapons, no war”.

“Different priorities illuminate the boundaries of cooperation and tactical differences in diplomacy toward denuclearization,” Manning said.

China’s push for sanctions easing

China, North Korea’s main trading partner, is pushing for sanctions relief for Pyongyang. The sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council target the proliferation of nuclear weapons and human rights violations.

Patricia Kim, a fellow with expertise in Chinese foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, said the differing US and Chinese priorities regarding North Korea have led the two to “hold different views on the order of denuclearization and sanctions easing.” “.

China’s priority to maintain stability in the Korean peninsula led it to “focus first on North Korea’s political and economic integration into the region,” Kim said.

China, along with Russia, urged the UN Security Council to lift several economic sanctions against North Korea in a draft resolution tabled earlier this month.

Diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang has stalled since their October 2019 meeting in Stockholm.

The Biden administration has offered talks with North Korea “without preconditions”, but Pyongyang has largely resisted the offer.