NKorea aggression could strengthen US-China bond

A+
A
A-

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.”

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Albert Einstien

    ha ha coming straight from horse’s mouth ..pnoy-dfa……UTO-UTO….ang HIHINA nyo kasi sa foreign policy….sabi ko sa inyo MASTER-SLAVE ang relationship at turing sa RP ayaw nyo maniwala….. NOW you know…US will abandon us again & again. cry baby labas nyo nyan je je……….postpone BALIKATAN till after NK threat to US is settled…..lol

    • kilawon(the return)

      i agree with u albert gunggung ! just because we’re against the kano’s doesnt mean we are commie! pepenos will be slave to this imperialist unless they wake up !

      • Crazy_horse101010

        looks like a commie smells like a commie. sounds like a commie its a commie

      • kilawon(the return)

        watch out for this guy ! hes a member of a kuklux clan!

      • Crazy_horse101010

        you spelled wrong its klu klux klan there is 3 things i hate among people child rapists commies as they killed my family and racists i have friends of all colors and cant understand people who judge people because of the color of their skin im married to a flippina stupid and adopted 3 flippino children and since your both a racists and a commie we will neve r exchange christmas cards. name one time i ever slander a flippino just for being flippino..

  • kilabot

    nokor aggression is a pretext for china abandoning nk,
    and usa dumping ph.
    it’s all about business, folks.

    • kilawon(the return)

      we must not rely on the imperialist! we should treat them with an utmost suspect!

    • Aida Ramos

      Please remember that North Korea is a close ally of China. NK is a reliable pawn to draw out the US defense and strategies and expose its weaknesses. China benefits from the North Korea’s belligerent posturing.

  • isidro c. valencia

    US should not be complacent that Nokor nuclear warheads are stored in Pyongyang.

    That is war, confuse the enemy. Nokor nuclear war material (missiles) may be stored in other countries, submarines, or luxury ships or mountain ranges which cannot be traced or detected by satellites.

    Of course, there is the US immediate retaliation. And NOKOR gone with the wind, it will be phased out in the world map. UN should do its part to convince NOKOR to stop its nonsensical act.

    US cannot wage war in two countries. One by one (or each by each only, English of my kumpadre). That is why US needs China’s support. Or maybe, China can’t really match US strength. Parang malaking aso yan batok lang batok pero urong ang buntot.

  • kilawon(the return)

    we cant rely the american pigs! the’ve been silent againt china-phil dispute while in korea they are ready strike anytime!as ive said before we’re just pawn for ther war games…. f*ck american pigs , china and skorea!….a healthy dose of fil-ultranationalism wouldnt hurt our country!

    • Crazy_horse101010

      keep ranting racist it shows the world how little brains you have. and speaking of pigs go look in the mirror if you have enough balls

  • $18209031

    NK is fed up of UN US tandem telling them what to do and not what to do. NK is ready to draw fire and return fire. Dejavu mama 1950.

  • $18209031

    China will let US destroy NK and they take NK landmass. SK industrial might will be devastated and removed from the list of Asian Tiger Nations. US will take SK as part of their Asian Mainland springboard. China will let Japo take Diaoyu and US will let CHina take South China Sea.

    That be the deal in this decade.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      what a fantasy world you live in you could write science fiction but its to unbelieveable

  • indiosbravos2002

    The US and Japan technically built China’s strugglng economy in the 90’s which up to now it supports through investments and employment. China on the other hand, benefits from its export revenues to these country and the technogy/knowledge transfer. The three has a symbiotic relationship. A threat to one is a threat to all. North Korea’s hold to China is its supply of raw materials, nothing more. NOKOR should not be complacent and think that China will back them up similar to the Korean war in the 50s. Times have changed. The chinese will follow whatever is best suited for them treaty or no treaty.

    • $18209031

      In contrary, USA corporations benefit from cheap Chinese labor market and lax laws to set up factories in China. They are getting superrich bec of China . China in return buy so many US products from heavy machineries to agricultural products to cars and what not . Its a symbiotic relationship. A strong CHina is good for USA as CHinese have buying power to buy US products. US corporations can profit more than setting up in USA.

  • limcat

    This might be true if the chinese reins in on Kim Jung Fat and he backs down but I can’t imagine the strengthening of US-China relations if the US does nuke N.Korea in a worst case scenario; the Chinese will surely get more paranoid.

  • Aida Ramos

    The only thing that can strengthen US-China relation is a check from the latter. Could you believe the palliatives?

  • Aida Ramos

    Nice press release by China through the Ass-ociated Praise! If the North Korean missiles go easterly then they must be shot down immediately. Japan, and US territories are located east of North Korea. China must be ROFL as their pawn, North Korea, visibly shoke America and its “allies.” Additional expenses for America to contain the bellicose NK will pressure its economy and further trade deficit. Meanwhile, China leaders are going around the world to expand their influence and trade. Funny but America can’t say anything against its creditor China.

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


editors' picks

advertisement

popular

advertisement

videos