Little Possibility of “North Korea Becoming a Subordinate State of China”

[imText1]Considering the relative complexity of the dispute, I would like to present more arguments with adequate bases.

The first and foremost concern is fear of the North Korean people directed at the US or South Korea, which is the driving force for nationalist sentiments. The workers party and military cadres, high and low ranking national security officials, safety officers, and even the military, suffer fear of punishment after a potential take-over by the US or South Korea, post-regime collapse.

There is a distinct possibility that the North Korean ruling class would attempt to rely on China if Kim Jong Il dies or loses power. However, the basis of their fear rests on a false assumption. The US is a third party and except for a few who get involved, South Korea too will remain a third party.

Neither the US nor South Korea has any intention of carrying out mass punishment across North Korea, and there is little possibility that they would decide to do so. Even if the US and South Korea are pressured to take such a role to appease and console the population, punishment of a few high ranking officials who committed horrendous inhumane crimes would be inevitable, but further punishment would be unlikely.

Rights to Deploy Troops to North Korea after Regime Collapse a Complicated Issue

Secondly, if North Korean regime collapses or a civil war breaks out, the complicated issue arises of which countries have the right to deploy troops to North Korea.

The constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea articulates that South Korean troops are a “domestic rebel army.” The domestic rebel army moving up into North Korea does not violate international law. Although South Korean law may take precedence, international law does not have the power of enforcement.

However, China is a different story. Under the “DPRK-PRC Mutual Cooperation and Mutual Aid Agreement,” China can freely send its troops in and out of North Korea. It is similar to how the American troops were deployed to South American countries under such agreements.

Thirdly, although it is possible that the UN would provide internal legal justification if the US invades North Korea with a clear goal, it would not be easy given the present UN atmosphere.

The matter will only worsen if the US sends troops to North Korea in the midst of chaos. Although some justification for US troop deployment exists, such as that the US is an ally state of South Korea, American troops have been present in South Korea since the Korean War, US is the world’s hegemonic power and international policeman, and deployment for humanitarian assistance for the North Korean people.

The fact that South Korea legally considers North Korea as part of it, does not provide justification for US troop deployment, in that there are no international legal grounds that support it.

However, It is not the US, but the UN that signed a ceasefire agreement with North Korea. There are not that many countries that accept that US position as world policeman, and through the UN, humanitarian intervantion usually only takes place after a significant number of casualties, and a complicated agreement process.

Strong Nationalism in North Korea; Becoming a Subordinate State Unlikely

Fourthly, there is strong nationalism present in North Korea. Anti-Japanese nationalism strengthened after the 1945 defeat of the Japanese colonial rule, and continued as anti-American nationalism during and post-Korean War. The strong nationalism prevailing among the North Korean people will work as the most critical factor in preventing North Korea from becoming a subordinate state of China, as will strong nationalist sentiment in South Korea.

Even under China’s overwhelming influence over North Korea, or under a government that pursues reformation and liberalization, the inflow of South Korean movies, soap operas, books, music and cultural influence will continue. By then, nobody will be able to stop the inflow of such cultural contents, which will accompany South Korean style nationalism.

Furthermore, there will be many South Korean willing to endanger themselves in order to spread Southern nationalism to North Korea. It is unlikely that North Korea, with weak authority, weak politics and weak political basis, will be able endure their own nationalist sentiment against an increasingly present voice from South Korean nationalists.

Lastly, China’s dormant strength is no less than that of its neighboring countries such as South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam or Indonesia. However, as China has already become one of the world’s strongest nations, and continues to strengthen, the world is increasingly requiring of China a respect for morals that is necessary as one of the world’s strongest powers. Chinese people and politicians are unfamiliar with such conditions, leading to the present dilemma.

This also leads to a dilemma domestically. While Chinese often say that they are a poor and weak nation in need of protection, they also complain that the world does not treat China as one of the world’s strongest nations.

China’s Dominant Nature Unverified

Many people argue that China pursues hegemonic power and some even compare China with Germany under the Nazi regime. However, such arguments have no basis.

China’s rapid economic growth, strengthening military power, recent tension with neighboring, obsession with territory, and one-party ruling, are the bases for these unverified assertions.

Complaining about China’s rapid economic growth and military strength is not something others can complain about.

For the past 25 years, China has kept relatively friendly relations with it’s Asian neighbors, reducing the effectiveness of evaluating its conflicts with these nations thirty and forty years ago. Furthermore, considering that all the Asian countries have shown interest in gaining territory in the past, and territorial disputes continue to this day (e.g. the South Korea-Japan dispute over a small island chain), criticizing China’s interest in territory may be inappropriate.

It is Difficult to Consider China a Belligerent State

Some have compared China to Nazi Germany, due to China’s one-party rule, but that is a rather irrational argument. Marxist Leninism itself may be considered as belligerent in the aspect that it pursues class struggle and revolution.

However, the desire for class struggle or revolution long before disappeared from the hearts of the average Chinese, and even from politicians. They are more interested in state power and individual well-being.

Individuals’ political actions in China have not been sufficiently cultivated, and the politics scene seems to be rougher than that of other strong nations. However, assuming that China would be belligerent due only to its one-party rule would be far fetched.

There is no evidence that China’s state management is any different from that of its neighboring countries. It would be inappropriate to apply overloading standards for evaluating China only in relation to its economic growth.

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