North Korea: just not a good neighbor
Posted by aogMonday, 31 March 2003 at 19:24 TrackBack Ping URL
I wrote a post a week or so ago that I never published on why North Korea looks south for blackmail victims and not north, to China. One might argue that NK wouldn't try to extort from its former ally but I just have to smile in bemusement at the thought that such quotidian concerns would affect NK policy. In my view it's because South Korea and the US have been a far softer touch. But that seems to be changing. It is now reported that China has been temporarily halting oil shipments to NK. Why now? Because the US is showing that there in fact limits to its tolerance of enemies. The invasion of Iraq against the tide of world opinion, the threat to withdraw troops from South Korea (thereby giving us more freedom to act), the failure to criticize Japan's mention of acquiring nuclear weapons. So NK might be looking to broaden its extortion strategy. China, no novice in the ways of national power, would certainly be aware of this. So one suspects that China is both trying to show that it's willing to play tough and to try to push NK down below the US radar. Some in China are keenly aware of the problem for China:
“When the [Bush] administration started this war in Iraq, they sent a message to countries who have or have had conflicts with the U.S., a clear message: The U.S. is not a paper tiger, it's a real tiger. And also that as a major power, the U.S.'s voice and principles should be listened to closely,” said Zhang Liankui, a Central Party School professor. “If the U.S. quickly finishes this war successfully, the North Koreans will be more cautious in the future.”