Quantcast
Latest Stories

NKorea aggression could strengthen US-China bond


In this April 3, 2013, photo, South Korean Marine K-55 self-propelled howitzers are on positions during an exercise against possible attacks by North Korea near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea. North Korea’s latest outburst of nuclear and military threats has given the U.S. a rare opportunity to build bridges with China _ a potential silver lining to the simmering crisis that could revitalize President Barack Obama’s administration’s flagging policy pivot to Asia. AP

WASHINGTON — North Korea’s latest outburst of nuclear and military threats has given the U.S. a rare opportunity to build bridges with China and revitalize the Obama administration’s flagging policy pivot to Asia.

The architect of the administration’s Asia policy described a subtle change in Chinese thinking as a result of Pyongyang’s recent nuclear tests, rocket launches and abandonment of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war with South Korea.

Pyongyang has taken similar actions in the past, prompting Washington to increase military readiness in the region to soothe allies South Korea and Japan. But in an unusual rebuke this week, Beijing called North Korea’s moves “regrettable” — amounting to a slap from the country’s strongest economic and diplomatic supporter.

“They, I think, recognize that the actions that North Korea has taken in recent months and years are in fact antithetical to their own national security interests,” former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told a panel Thursday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“There is a subtle shift in Chinese foreign policy” toward North Korea, said Campbell, who retired in February as the administration’s top diplomat in East Asia and the Pacific region. “I think that they have succeeded in undermining trust and confidence in Beijing.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described “good unity” between the U.S. and China in responding to North Korea. “The issue here is to continue to recognize that the threats we share are common, and the approaches are more likely to be more effective if we can work well together,” she told reporters Thursday.

President Barack Obama recently called China’s new president, Xi Jinping, as part of an effort to brief the Chinese about U.S. plans to take steps to deter the threats coming from the North, The New York Times reported on its website Friday night.

For now, the crisis has given new importance to the White House’s decision to bolster U.S. economic and security in the region that for years was sidelined as a priority by war and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa.

Much of the policy has centered on China, both in strengthening diplomatic ties and economic trade. But China is an unreliable ally and has been suspicious about the U.S. move, which it sees as economic competition on its own turf.

North Korea’s threats have focused China and the U.S. on a regional security threat instead of an economic rivalry.

“Part of the pivot is to also take a more active interest in the security issues in Asia,” Sen. Ben Cardin, who chairs a committee overseeing East Asia, said in an interview this week. “And clearly, North Korea is the most difficult country and one that represents security issues for the countries in Asia, as well as indirectly affects U.S. interests.”

North Korea has made an almost daily string of threats toward the U.S., South Korea and Japan and moved a missile with “considerable range” to its east coast, South Korea’s defense minister said Thursday. But he emphasized that the missile was not capable of reaching the United States, and officials in Seoul and Washington agree there are no signs that Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale conflict.

Last year, North Korea launched two long-range rockets — it claims they were satellites, but they were widely believed to be missiles — and in February announced it conducted an underground nuclear test. Last month, the country declared its 1953 armistice with South Korea void. And this week, Pyongyang said it would restart a shuttered nuclear reactor and increase production of atomic weapons material.

Much of this is seen as an effort to strengthen loyalty among citizens and the military for North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un. But U.S. and U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after the February nuclear test fueled tensions and began the unusually high level of threats.

China historically has been lax on enforcing international sanctions against the North. But in what the U.S. took as a positive development, China signed on to stiffer measures in the latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions, and there are initial indications that it’s increasing cargo inspections.

North Korea’s anger is also a response to annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that, intentional or not, antagonize the North. The ongoing drills have shown a conspicuous display of firepower, including flying U.S. bombers and fighter jets in recent weeks over South Korea and off the Korean peninsula’s coast, where a U.S. missile-defense ship has been deployed.

North Korea’s military issued a statement saying its troops have been authorized to counter U.S. “aggression” with “powerful practical military counteractions,” including nuclear weapons. Experts doubt Pyongyang is able to launch nuclear-tipped missiles, although the extent of its nuclear arsenal is unclear.

Patrick Cronin, an Asia expert at the Center for a New American Security and a senior State Department official during the George W. Bush administration, said Beijing is helping set up back-channel negotiations with North Korea to ease the tensions.

But ultimately, he said, the U.S. isn’t likely to succeed in winning China over as a reliable partner against North Korea beyond the current crisis.

“There is an opportunity for the U.S. and China to renew cooperation on a North Korean strategy,” Cronin said. “But we can’t put all of our hopes on that cooperation, because it’s been less than satisfying in the past. There are limits to how far China and the U.S. have coincidental interests with regard to North Korea. But it’s not enough — because, more likely, we’re likely to fail.”

Asia expert and peace activist Hyun Lee agreed that Washington will be unlikely to turn Beijing against North Korea in the long run. But she said China does not want to see an increased U.S. military presence in the region, and Beijing certainly doesn’t want a war on its borders.

China “doesn’t want to deal with headaches like the tension between the U.S. and North Korea,” said Lee of the Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific. “I think China is trying to restrain both sides.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Barrack Obama , China , Japan , Kurt Campbell , North korea , Pyongyang , South korea , US , Xi Jinping




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • ‘Dry spell’ delayed, thanks to busted valve
  • At 77, Erap has Easter treat for Manila cops but keeps City Hall folk in agony
  • Joy Belmonte defends council, waste-to-energy tech
  • House bill seeks special body to manage, protect Manila Bay
  • No Lenten break for QC thieves
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • ‘Pacquiao a great ambassador for basketball’
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement