Home Contact Us  
   

China - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5430, 12 February 2018
 

East Asia Compass

Denuclearising the Korean Peninsula: US Policy and China's Role
Sandip Kumar Mishra
Associate Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, JNU, & Visiting Fellow, IPCS
 

In almost every commentary on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, China's role is acknowledged as crucial. If China - North Korea's main ally - decides to put ‘maximum pressure’ on the country by implementing UN sanctions in their letter and spirit, it would be impossible for North Korea to sustain its defiance. China not only constitute more than 85 per cent of North Korea's external trade but also shares around 80 per cent of its land border with the country. From the beginning of his term, US President Donald Trump has been trying to bring China on board and work for the denuclearisation of North Korea. Trump and his team have had several rounds of contact with China to convince them that North Korea must be denuclearised and China must cooperate to achieve this goal. Trump has also show encouragement by praising China for any small step aimed at putting pressure on North Korea. However, after a year, the US now seems tired and frustrated.

In recent months, Trump has openly expressed his frustration with China’s secret trade and economic exchanges with North Korea. Now, the US policy has changed from requesting China’s cooperation to naming and shaming and putting pressure on China to do more on the issue. However, the new US policy, like its predecessor, will likely also have limited impact on China’s approach towards North Korea in general and its nuclear and missile programmes in particular.

In fact, China agrees with the US that the North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and its provocative behaviour must be checked. However, to assume that this broad agreement would be sufficient for China to fully contribute to the US plan to deal with North Korea is wishful thinking. China may share with the US a common goal in the denuclearisation of North Korea but there are several other reasons why China’s role will not be as per US expectations.

First, there is a difference in priorities with regard to North Korea's denuclearisation and survival. For the US, denuclearisation of is of the utmost importance, and North Korea’s survival may be compromised to achieve this goal. On the contrary, for China, North Korea’s survival is primary and even if denuclearisation is not achieved in the short and medium-terms, Beijing will not find losing North Korea as a buffer state an acceptable proposition. 

Second, unlike the US, China is against threatening the North Korean regime bilaterally. Trump and his administration have regularly made provocative statements against North Korea and its leader. With US' anti-missile defence system and all types of war machinery in and around the Korean Peninsula and its regular joint military exercises with South Korea, there is no possibility that North Korea will revise its strong resolve to remain nuclear. In fact, these military developments have further led North Korea to believe that nuclear weapons are its only deterrent against the US' aggressive intent. 

Third, China would like to be the prime-mover in regional politics. If the denuclearisation initiative is seen as being carried out under the leadership of the US, there is less incentive for China to be sufficiently active. China wants a non-nuclear North Korea in its neighbourhood but with itself as the prime-mover.

Fourth, China may think about abandoning North Korea by fully cooperating with international sanctions. However, in return, it would definitely like South Korea to equally distance itself from the US in the region. China would not like to lose an old friend without gaining at least another in return.

Fifth, even though China does not openly recognise it, China has far less leverage over North Korea's behaviour than popularly believed. North Korea is aware that both countries need each other to serve their national interests and regional equation. North Korea, so far, has used the fact to its advantage and has been able to exercise autonomy in its defence and security policy.

Thus, the belief that that China could be brought on board for a US-initiated strategy to denuclearise North Korea is flawed. Even though there have been signs of a more cooperative China helping implement the UN sanctions on North Korea, and several reports that China-North Korea trade has been shrinking, the reality is much more complex. To be able to bring China along to denuclearise North Korea, the international community and the US must acknowledge these complex realities and refrain from wishful thinking.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
'Comfort Women' and the Japan-South Korea Relationship

Denial and Provocation: Failure of US' North Korea Policy

Trump's Visit to East Asia

Shinzo Abe’s North Korea Strategy

North Korea: Testing the Limits of US-South Korea Relations

The US' Acrobatic Responses to the North Korean Riddle

Japan’s ‘New Approach’ to Russia: Is it Moving Forward?

India and the Koreas: Promises and Follow-ups

South Korea-North Korea: A New Version of Engagement

Trump’s North Korea Policy: Regional Implications

Park Geun-hye's Impeachment and South Korean Foreign Policy

US Tactical Nukes in the Korean Peninsula?

Forecast 2017: East Asia

Japan-China Contestation in 2017

Donald Trump and East Asia

PM Modi’s Visit to Japan: Prospects and Prudence

Future of the TPP and the US' Pivot to Asia

Russia’s Overtures in East Asia

China’s Game on North Korea

Six-Party Talks 2.0: Not for Denuclearisation but for Peace

Deadlock at Shangri-La: Is There a Way Forward?

North Korea’s 7th Party Congress: Context and Content

Japan’s New Security Laws: Context and Implications

What is the Efficacy of Sanctions on North Korea?

‘Brilliant’ Comrade: The Design in North Korean Madness

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.