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Expert: China’s ‘revisionists’ could isolate N. Korea diplomatically

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등록 2014-04-24 15:47
Jin Canrong, Associate Dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University

Beijing’s traditional backing of Pyongyang could wane if N. Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test
 

By Kim Oi-hyun, staff reporter

Jin Canrong, Associate Dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University in China, said that if Pyongyang carries out a fourth nuclear test, China would isolate North Korea diplomatically by initiating dialogue with South Korea and the US. Jin is regarded as one of the most reliable voices for China’s foreign policy.

Jin was in Seoul to attend the Asan Plenum 2014, organized by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. “If that [a fourth nuclear test] were to occur, China would enter three-way talks with South Korea and the US, something that it has rejected until now,” Jin said, declaring that “China would also agree to a proposal to have the UN impose the harshest sanctions on North Korea.”

The reason that China will take a harder line on North Korea, Jin said, has to do with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “revisionist” tendencies. Traditionally, China has regarded North Korea as a strategic asset, focusing on the role it plays as a buffer zone. One example of this is the “lips and teeth” concept, seeing North Korea as a buffer, that China offered as its reason for entering the Korean War. But more recently, a so-called revisionist school is rising in China, whose adherents view North Korea as a strategic burden and focus on improving ties with South Korea and the US.

While Jin admitted that not everything could be predicted based on Xi‘s predilections alone, he was sure that there was no chance that Xi would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the near future.

Jin emphasized that China was applying the principle of “Three Noes” to North Korea: no nukes, no chaos, and no war. In this sense, the plan of South Korea, the US, and Japan to get results by asking China to put pressure on North Korea could backfire. “If China leans too heavily on North Korea, there could be chaos if the regime collapses, and a war could even break out,” Jin said. “There are fundamental limits on China’s policy options.”

Jin also stressed that China alone should not be criticized even if North Korea goes forward with a fourth nuclear test. “All of the other five countries that are part of the six-party talks with North Korea bear some degree of responsibility. North Korea is the patient, and we [the five countries] are the doctors. If we have failed to treat this patient because of its unusual ailment, the question becomes how we can improve our medical skill,” Jin said.

 

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

 

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