The China perception of North Korea Nuclear Problem

The China perception of North Korea Nuclear Problem


For quite a long time there has been growing animosity between the USA and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This is over the issue of Korea’s perceived continued making of nuclear weapons. This has become an issue of interest the world over but more so to People’s Republic of China (PRC). There has been a growing interest the world over of a possibility of a nuclear war breaks out. Of course this is a chilling message to any living human being because if what was seen at Japan’s Hiroshima is anything to go by, a nuclear war will likely pronounce end of life in planet earth. Nevertheless to mention, the biggest question that now remains is the USA’s perception of China as indirectly supporting North Korea’s activities. This is the major content of this essay.

China’s relation with DPRK

It is undisputed fact that China is the closest ally that Democratic people republic of Korea (DPRK) has across the world. This has been attributed to two major reasons; namely trading and geographical proximity. Therefore whatever that happens in the territory of North Korea, indirectly impacts on china. It is this perceived close relation between china and North Korea that makes the United States of America and its close allies believe that china is indirectly in support of DPRK’s nuclear weapons development. China’s community party is deeply concerned with economic development of china as opposed to the previous regimes that concentrated on communism ideology. Thus China is deeply worried about United States possible use of military power against North Korea. This is not because PRC (People’s Republic of China) fears that it might be also attacked due to its closeness with Korea, but because any external aggression will bring about instability in China’s trade with DPRK. Such war is also likely to affect the whole of Asian block (Scott, 212).

Turning now to the burning issue of China’s position on North Korea’s nuclear issue, we can say that it is unclear in the least. Whilst it is true that China’s interest in Korea is purely economic, its go slow in persuading denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, raises more questions than answers. Nevertheless to mention there is general perception that the Hu Jintao administration will be happier to see a nuclear free Korea for the good of stability and trade development in the whole area. Whilst in the initial stages China took a position of an on looker, in the crisis between North Korea and the United States, of late (from 2003) it has turned to be an active negotiator for denuclearization of Korea. This was more so after China witnessed what the Bush administration did to Iraq. It feared that Korea might be the next target and that will jeopardize its whole plan of becoming a global power.

China’s relation with USA

Since the end of World War II, there has been no any diplomatic animosity between PRC and the United States. They have enjoyed rather harmonious relation. However, in the past decade, things have not been all that rosy, this is due to United States perception of China as supporting North Koreas nuclear weapon’s manufacturing. Whereas there have been endless calls to China to try and convince North Korea to stop its manufacture of nuclear weapons, China has either been slow or totally ignored this calls. This has made United States to think twice about China’s position in as far as North Korea issue is concerned (Scott, 217). Whereas it is true that China’s interest n Korea is purely economic, there is a feeling that it has influence and can hence use that to convince Korea to abandon its nuclear projects. Things became more worse when Korea went open to announce that it has successfully tested its nuclear weapons in 2006 and 2009.

DPRK’s relation with USA

This can be said to be very bad and it is worsening day by day. In the earlier 2000 the USA made several claims that DPRK was enriching its uranium plants for the sole purpose of nuclear weapon manufacture. But Korea insisted that it was doing so for the purpose of producing nuclear energy for domestic use. This even prompted the Security Council to send a team of atomic energy experts to go and inspect the nuclear plants. The report that came up is that Korea had more serious intentions with their nuclear plants than just domestic energy use. It is again at this point that DPRK changed its stand saying that the nuclear weapon manufacture was for the sole purpose of arming itself against external invasion. It is this stand that has made United States to strongly believe that North Korea is involved in uranium enrichment for the purpose of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

This made United States to seek support from the international community to impose sanctions on North Korea. This was after Korea openly tested its nuclear weapons in 2006 and 2009. In fact this move made China to openly consent (for the first time in history) to UNs resolution that economic sanctions should be imposed on china. Whether China’s consent was genuine or not remains quite debatable. Since then the US has been seeking support from international community and the Security Council in its bid to have sanctions imposed against North Korea. But of all the countries that the United States wanted to co-operate with in this issue, PRC was the most preferred partner. Contrary to the United States expectation, china dragged its feet in this issue. It is this move that made the former government of Bush to feel that People’s Republic of China had a role to play in Korea’s continued effort to manufacture nuclear weapons (Liu, 118).

The stand off

Considering this scenario it is right to say that there exists a stand off among all the nations involved in the North Korean nuclear saga. These are the United States and its allies, China and its allies and the UN Security Council. For instance China does not want to jeopardize its relation with Korea on the issue of imposing sanctions on it closest allies while at the same time it does not want to be seen by the United States as supporting Korea’s nuclear project. This will bring about deteriorating cooperation relationship with the US. Talk of choosing between a hard rock and stone!

Secondly the United States hesitation to use military power against Korea can be attributed to the fear that may be Korea will be joined by its allies and thus bring about a bad war that may pronounce unimaginable disaster to the whole humanity. Similarly united states have no right to coerce Hu Jintao administration to use sanctions or even military power against North Korea to make it consent to the denuclearization issue (Liu, 119).

On the other hand even use of diplomatic efforts has failed, with Korea’s open acceptance that it will not attend the six party talks aimed at ending the rising tension. In fact even China’s diplomatic relation with Korea has not been good owing to the fact that China consented to security councils’ resolution to have economic sanctions imposed against DPRK. There also seems to be a stand off between United States and its allies over this issue. This is explained by the slow pace at which nations are responding to united nation’s call for economic sanctions against Korea. Nations like Taiwan, Japan, Russia and the rest have not come out clearly as far as the issue of North Korea denuclearization is concerned.

The resolution

Judging from the current status of the war against denuclearization of Korea, it can be generally said that there is no any clear answer on the way forward. The fact that no nation wants to be directly involved in this issue in cooperation with the United States and the Security Council makes matters even worse. The only way out of the political impasse that exists among all these countries is for everyone to put their selfish interest behind and resume to the negotiating table. That is the best way forward but this is easier said than done. This is because no country wants to lower their egocentric interests for the sake of peace and prosperity of all humanity.

To start with China should put its feet firmly on the ground and support the disarmament call. Using economic growth and emergence of PRC as a global power at the expense of world peace, is very selfish to say the least. Secondly North Korea should totally stop their provocation to world peace by regularly testing their nuclear weapons. As far as no country has attacked her, it is very irresponsible for her to be testing her weapons. Thirdly the United States should think of accepting Korea’s ability to make nuclear weapons. I think this will greatly improve its relation with this Asian giant. Then United States will use that rapport to convince North Korea to desist from carelessly using its weapons. There is no need to invade Korea as this will lead to a nuclear war that is very dangerous to all humanity. Last but not least the United Nations and Korea’s neighbor’s need to work hand in hand to ensure that this threat to international peace comes to an end (Samuel, 183). Playing as by standers or onlookers will not assist anything after all if a nuclear war breaks the neighbors will be most affected.

In conclusion it can be said that, whereas it is true that China has a special role to play in as far as denuclearization of North Korea is concerned, this is a great war that can not be won by PRC alone. The international community needs to come together and resolve this issue. A nuclear war of one day will spell doom to what has taken us 100 years to build therefore there should be no any excuse whatsoever that any country should use to support or just remain indifferent as far as this issue is concerned. Playing cards under the table by all parties concerned to this problem should be stopped and come to the negotiating table with an open mind and political goodwill to end this impasse.

Works cited

Scott Snyder, Reaching out to Touch North Korea: The Sanctions Debate and China,

Council on Foreign Relations, May 28, 2009,


Liu, Ming, China’s Role in the Course of North Korea’s Transition, A New

International Engagement Framework for North Korea? (Washington, D.C.: Korea

Economic Institute, 2004

Samuel S. Kim, China’s Conflict-Management Approach to the Nuclear Stand-off on the

Korean Peninsula, Asian Perspective 30, no. 1 (2006): 5_38.

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