What used to be allies may soon be fast enemies. China and North Korea have been diplomatic allies for decades. They share the same uptight quality most Chinese and North Korean people possess and both have been a mystery to the world for a long time, although China stepped out of the dark and into the light and opened its doors to the rest of the world for quite some time now. Meanwhile, North Korea remains to be out of touch with reality and so little is known about what really goes on in this tiny yet proud nation.
However, not all good things last. China and North Korea may have enjoyed a friendly relationship in the past but that is gradually changing as China is increasingly worried about North Korea’s active and highly dangerous missile program. China is more vocal now about their concerns and this has not escaped the attention of the public. But the gradual severing of ties that is happening now between these two nations isn’t something new but actually started in 1992 when China established diplomatic relations with the home of the KWave, KPop and Kdrama, South Korea.
If we look at North Korea and South Korea, who is a friend of China and who is an enemy? Outwardly, China and North Korea are allies, while the United States and Japan support South Korea against North Korea.
That is a legacy of the Cold War. But I believe that after decades of contention and shifts in the international landscape, there has long been a fundamental transformation.
My basic conclusion is, judging by the current situation, North Korea is China’s latent enemy and South Korea could be China’s friend. To call North Korea a latent enemy of China means that, for now, this still has not come to the fore.
Diplomatically, when leaders of the two countries talk to each other, they do not use particularly hostile rhetoric. But that does not count. Do not look at the rhetoric. Look at fundamentalinterests.
Look at whether the fundamental interests of China and North Korea are aligned and consistent. Speaking in light of my own research into the history of the Chinese-North Korean relationship, China and North Korea really were friends and allies in the past. That was when the relationship was a special friendship created by Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung and other senior Chinese and North Korean leaders.
When China and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1992, that totally destroyed the political basis of the Chinese-North Korean relationship. By 1992, at the end of the Cold War, the Chinese-North Korean relationship and alliance created by the previous generation no longer existed.
Practically speaking, everything had changed in the relationship. In foreign policy, economics, politics, everything, the interests of China and North Korea had diverged, and the basis for an alliance had disintegrated.
The treaty of alliance between China and North Korea became a piece of scrap paper.
Basically, the close diplomatic relations between China and North Korea virtually disappeared when the former made peace with South Korea, a known enemy of North Korea. So you see, politics is really a difficult issue to discuss since the facts can get twisted over time and loyalties are never permanent – not even loyalty to one’s party but only loyalty to one’s self. The same can be said about inter-global relationships. Each nation has their own interests to protect and go after and alliances are formed or broken when nations share or no longer share the same interests. After all, is there really any other nation that understands North Korea aside from China? It’s hard to tell if there is because North Korea has shut itself from the world for as long as everyone can remember.
China sent the Trump administration “positive signals” that it will increase economic sanctions to pressure ally North Korea to abandon its development of nuclear weapons and missiles, a threat that has raised the prospect of a military confrontation with the United States, the State Department revealed Monday.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive signals from the Chinese but it takes time,” Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said on a conference call with reporters. “You don’t know if these kinds of economic pressure will work until it works.”
U.S. diplomats will meet with the Chinese and American allies at the United Nations later this month to discuss the way forward, Thornton said. But if the Chinese are unsuccessful, the U.S. will move to increase pressure on North Korea on its own.
The wind is now blowing in a different direction indeed as China hints of its support to the U.S. rather than to its longtime ally, North Korea. Amidst the threats of a nuclear war between the U.S. with the help of South Korea through an aggressive war drill against North Korea, China openly expressed they will not support such barbaric acts. However, this is a tricky situation China found itself to be in since they can’t just allow the destruction of their smaller ally for reasons such as potential refugee rise to China, among many others.
Meanwhile, the United States isn’t interested in destabilizing North Korea at all. They just want them to stop their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles testing that can potentially destroy America. Where China sits in this mess depends on them and it won’t likely take long for everyone to find out.