Wednesday, March 17, 2010

China is NOT the key to North Korea Part II

[So, for those in the DeCal, I mentioned I was a little bit late as I was busy posting a comment on a blog.]

I saw a comment that I felt I had to comment on. It's a comment left on one of Professor Brad DeLong's postings on his weblog, "Grapling Reality..." The post itself was actually about what exactly happened during the latter part of the Bretton Woods period, but the comment that was left presumed -- not unlike the Los Angeles Times Editorial -- that China has this influence over North Korea. In fact, the only country that has direct influence over North Korea is the United States, if the country can ever agree on a single policy and choose to actually carry it out. A quick glimpse at the history of North Korea's nuclear program and South Korea's short stint with building its nuclear program was when the two states feared that their futures were being chosen for them by China and the United States (i.e. the Koreas reconciled after Nixon's trip, North Korea "warned that this development would 'force Pyongyang to take certain actions to build certain types of weapons by our own means'" after Russia notified the DPRK it was going to normalize relations with South Korea (Snyder 33) -- , etc etc).

Nonetheless, I wrote earlier about an editiorial in the Los Angeles Times about this common misperception that China is the key to the "North Korea problem." Well, since that time, I've found more information that supports what I've been saying all along -- China has no influence in North Korea.

Here is a table from China's Rise and the Two Koreas: Politics, Economics, Security (If I copy large portions of the book, then I'm sure I'll run into copyright issues), but anyways check the circled period and buy the book -- it's a very comprehensive look at what's been going on recently...

KEDO (Korean Energy Development Organization) was a plan that was agreed upon during the Clinton Administration that basically offered two light water nuclear power plants, heavy oil, and other aid to North Korea in exchange for North Korea abandoning/suspending its nuclear weapons program + staying in the NPT.  

Notice that basically what happened during this period was that North Korea's dependence lessend as the country was able to extract aid from other countries. In Dec. 2002, there was an exchange (and if you read the details of what puportedly happened -- it really is interesting as North Korea was preparing to return the U.S.S. Sherman to say thank you for the heavy crude that the U.S. had been providing) where the United States accused North Korea and allegedly acknowledged the existence of a secret uranium enrichment program (another way of building nuclear weapons). Soon after, KEDO became defunct and the U.S. began it's "CVID" policy. Interestingly, at the very same time, shipments of petroleum from China went up.

However,  perhaps, most interestingly, Scott Snyder writes:

"China is reported to have pleedged economic aid and energy assistance worth as much as US$50 million to secure North Korean participation in the second round of six-party talks in February 2004" (125)  [1]
It's as if China wishes to project this image that the country does have leverage over North Korea. But, as argued in this book and as I have been saying all along in this blog... However, Scott Snyder puts it best when he writes:

Thus, China's increased use of aid, trade, and investment as vehicles for enhancing political influence on North Korea has thus far worked in precisely the opposite manner, making China hostage to and enabler of North Korean provocations (132).
Moreover, if you think about it, if Korea ever does re-unifiy, I believe a unified country will be in the exact same position that North Korea is in right now. It will either have to have U.S. troops on the peninsula or have a nuclear weapons program -- the country neighbors China, Japan, and Russia...

Primary Source:
Note: I briefly tried googling the Washington Post Article to no avail. This is the source that Scott Snyder cites in China's Rise and the Two Koreas: Politics, Economics, Security.
[1] Samuel S. Kim, "China's Conflict-Management Approach to the Nuclear Standoff on the Korean Peninsula." Asian Perspective 30, no.1 (2006): 5-38 as cited in Edward Cody and Anthony Faiola, "N. Korea's Kim Reportedly in China for Talks," Washington Post, April 20, 2004; Ralph Cossa, "CVID, WMD, and Elections Galore," in Brad Glosserman and Sun Namkung eds., Comparative Connections 6, no. 1 (April 2004): 1-18.

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