Wednesday, November 24, 2010

China, China, What Do You Think?

Since Chinese foreign policy amounts to a fairly predictable brand of realism, we can say with some certainty that the only activities North Korea could engage in which would cause Pyongyang to lose the backing, diplomatic and/or economic, of their sole significant benefactor would be activities that undermined the Chinese national interest.

So a good question is this; what activities would cause China to feel that way?

Let’s start here. Broadly speaking, the quieter China is about an issue pertaining to the Korean Peninsula, the angrier, or more surprised, or both, it is.

Of course any nation can make a bland diplomatic statement of no value whatsoever; indeed my mornings at Daily NK are regularly blighted by the activities of chirpy spokesman Philip Crowley over at the U.S. State Department. And China certainly did make such a statement yesterday evening.

But that is not substance, actually, not where China (or the States, for that matter) is concerned. Instead, until an editorial or weighty comment not attributed to a scholar (in order to achieve deniability) appears in the Chinese state media, we can consider China to be silent on said issue.

Which means that not only has China yet to comment on the Yeonpyeong Island assault, but it also has yet, to my knowledge and with the exception of this, yes, bland diplomatic statement, to comment on North Korea's light-water reactor/uranium enrichment revelations of last week.

Which makes me think that Beijing is pretty unimpressed.

And that leads me to this thought; given the consequences, I'm not in favor of a military retaliation for the Yeonpyeong Island assault, but if there is one thing that could be said for it, it would be that it would make China think twice or thrice about its stance, since we can say with some certainty that a second Korean War would have a most unpalatable effect on the Chinese national interest.

Now if we could come up with some less unattractive ways to make North Korea issues affect the Chinese national interest...

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