Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chinese Media, Chinese Stance.

Kremlinology was and still is a precise set of analytical skills. Kumsusanology is the same. And China watching is very similar. A lot of it revolves around careful reading between the lines of official pronouncements and the state-run media.

Sometimes, of course, the reading doesn’t even need to be all that careful. Such is the case with recent pieces from the two major outward-looking organs of the Communist Party of China, “The People’s Daily” and “Global Times”, on North Korea and the regional power balance.

Take a look at these quotes;

August 20th, 2010

“South Korea needs to keep clear-minded that its security has to be built on goodwill with its neighbors, and the strategic balance of the region should be unchanged.

A stronger South Korea-US alliance might jeopardize the trust of Seoul with its neighbors, and lead to more insecurity.

The hawkish trend of the Lee Myung Bak administration has also aroused public opinion that pressed it to take more hard-line actions. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is stuck in a vicious cycle.

Seoul has to think clearly if it wants to break the vicious cycle. Its security will come from a stable Northeast Asia.”

August 26th, 2010

“To put it simply, the US has never changed its basic policy toward North Korea, which is to ensue a regime change.

Although Washington is not openly talking about the policy, its goal remains to overthrow the current North Korean government.

The US-South Korean joint military exercises are a move to accelerate this momentum. It is a strategy to push and prepare for change, and take the initiative if the regime change really happens.

The controversial sinking of the South Korean battleship, in retrospect, is more like a convenient excuse for the US to conduct a long-planned drill that envisions the occupation of the North, rather than a single reaction toward an emergency.

The Korean Peninsula is too important to ignore in the realm of global geopolitics. U.S. control of the peninsula will pose a realistic threat to China and Russia.

North Korean leadership is expected to change hands soon. The world is watching the change closely, as North Korea is still not back to the Six-Party Talks that aim to persuade it to drop its nuclear weapon program.

A smooth transition of power in the North is vital for the stability of Northeast Asia.

China needs to clearly realize this, and try to play an active role in preserving the peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as look after its own interests.”

These are unattributed editorials. They are, to all intents and purposes, the Chinese leadership's current stance. And they make the position very clear.

First, the U.S. and South Korea should avoid trying to enhance their power in the region. Lee Myung Bak is overstepping the mark with his hawkishness.

Second, the Chinese are prepared to accept the Kim Jong Eun transition of power if it means that stability is ensured.

Finally, the U.S. should not try/stop trying to topple the regime in Pyongyang. To say the Chinese want Kim Jong Eun there is an almighty overstatement, but they don’t want the alternative, especially instability. The Chinese know that a transition period is a time of weakness in a dictatorship, and they don't want the U.S. to try and incite rebellion in the people at such a time.

To wit, they feel that the U.S.-South Korean military exercises being conducted this year are partially aimed at fomenting just that unrest in the North Korean military establishment.

For sure, there are warnings in there for Pyongyang too, not least among them; if we don’t see stability coming out of the succession, then we might just change our minds. And there are positive messages, notably; we won't go out of our way to stop your hereditary succession.

But what this shows above all is how the Chinese go about giving gentle guidance to their international competitors.

All we, the aforementioned competitors, have to do is read it. When the government's opinion is also the newspaper's opinion, isn't it so much simpler?!

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