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A Change of Means, But Not of Ends

Cho Jong Ik  |  2013-02-08 22:05
The idea that the Chinese government is moving toward a new approach to North Korea continues to grow in stature. This is based on relatively strongly worded Chinese state media reports and bilateral warnings that have allegedly been issued by Beijing.

However, experts argue that it is actually far too early to say China is changing its policy towards North Korea. Simply, they say that the Chinese national interest would not be served by a nuclear test at the time of writing, and so they are in opposition to it.

The Xi Jinping regime is currently focusing on those domestic issues that will serve the imperative of transitional stability. From their perspective, the less that goes on internationally at this time, the better.

As one high-level Chinese official recently told a South Korean government representative in Beijing, China is not yet ready to say what it would or would not do in terms of sanctions [if North Korea went ahead with the test]. Indeed, viewed in terms of the Chinese national interest, which is best served by peninsula stability, Beijings full participation in a genuinely punishing sanctions regime should be seen as an exceedingly unlikely outcome of any test, no matter when it is conducted or how successful it turns out to be.

Lee Tae Hwang, a senior researcher with the Sejong Institute in Bundang told Daily NK, It is very unlikely that Chinas recent firm stance towards North Korea will lead to fundamental changes in Chinese policy. China is trying to distance itself from North Korea and manage them. The recent stance is only a change in means, not in ends.

A South Korean diplomatic source agreed, commenting, If China changed tack and suspended deliveries of free heavy fuel oil and food to North Korea and joined in with international sanctions then it would pressure them but at the moment the chance of that is low.
 
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