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Will China Finally Change its Attitude Towards North Korea?

Roshan writes: The Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test and subsequent satellite launch, has created more problems for China. China has always been reluctant to take extreme harsh measures against North Korea, often putting blinkers especially whenever the issue of sanctions was discussed, and that was one of the reasons that the previous sanctions imposed against North Korea had failed to deliver the goods

Roshan writes: The Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test and subsequent satellite launch, has created more problems for China. China has always been reluctant to take extreme harsh measures against North Korea, often putting blinkers especially whenever the issue of sanctions was discussed, and that was one of the reasons that the previous sanctions imposed against North Korea had failed to deliver the goods and the peninsula continued to be unstable. However; it seems that the things might just change for North Korea now. The reasons for this may be that the Chinese government is losing patience. The fact that the Chinese had tried to build better relations with the South Koreans was a proof that they might not tolerate North Korea’s idiocies in future. This has a lot to do with the South Koreans stand on the eventuality of deploying terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) missiles and advanced radars on the peninsula. Initially Chinese displeasure had been communicated to the South Koreans but with North Koreans continuing on its nuclear spree the relation between the two had deteriorated to the extent that the South Koreans had rebuffed China for interfering in their internal affairs.  China may thus be forced to take a tough stand on North Korea if they do not want the THAAD missile to be deployed in South Korea because the Chinese believe that it can compromise its strategic security.

It is equally true that the string to control North Korea lies with the Chinese. The sanctions will also impact the North Korean President Kim Jong-un’s twin policy of developing economic and military simultaneously. Since North Korea has its major trade with China so even a small tightening by China will have a major effect on the North Korean behaviour. The sanctions imposed this time though are sharper and if followed in earnest will have a grave impact on the North Korean economy. The question to be asked is whether the North Koreans will understand the implications of this tough stand (if taken) by China or the young leader is still brazen enough to continue on its nuclear trajectory.

The coming times will enfold what path North Korea adopts. If the North Koreans allow the Chinese to mediate for six party negotiations then a face saver can be achieved for the North Koreans but if they continue with the peril, then it will be tough times for not only North Korea but also for China. China is thus in a precarious situation, whether to support and impose the sanctions and abandon its ally or to use all its leverages to instil some sense in the North Koreans to abandon their belligerence.  China had given a long leash to North Korea for a long time and now the time is testing China for the same. So may be this one time North Korea will find it difficult to divide the two powers (US and China)  and soon realise its predicament and come to the negotiating table.

 

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