China Juggles Diplomacy with Both Koreas

Discussion in 'China' started by amoy, May 23, 2011.

  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il comes out of the Holiday Inn hotel in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province in China on Friday night. /Kyoto News-Yonhap
    China is busy balancing high-level diplomacy with both Koreas in the same week. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended a trilateral summit with South Korea and Japan on Sunday and held separate talks with President Lee Myung-bak, while North Korean leader Kim Jong-il kicked off a visit to China on Friday. Diplomatic sources in China say Kim will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and Wen in Beijing this coming Thursday or Friday.

    This is not the first time that China has held summits with North and South Korea at almost the same time. Hu met Lee in May last year when the South Korean president was visiting the Shanghai Expo, and just three days later China invited Kim to visit, apparently failing to notify Lee of Kim’s impending visit.

    Wen, apparently mindful of Korean sensitivities, explained Kim's visit to Lee during their latest meeting, saying the purpose was to give the North a chance to understand and use China's economic development strategy. And China on Friday apparently informed South Korea of Kim's latest visit through diplomatic channels to avoid further upset.

    But this simultaneous diplomacy sticks in the craw of many South Koreans. Not only does it give the impression on the international stage that the Korean peninsula is an area of conflict, but it can also lead to the misconception that China is a mediator between the two Koreas.

    China did offer to act as a mediator after the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan last March and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island later that year. But it was the widespread view in the international community that the two incidents were clear military provocations by the North. China is trying to ignore this conclusion and seeking to support North Korea, to give the impression that it is pursuing peace and reconciliation.

    While the South slapped economic sanctions on the North on May 24 of last year and the UN also tightened sanctions, China invited Kim to visit three times since May of last year. Beijing is being criticized for making the problem worse, by giving the North Korean regime the impression that it can survive by boosting ties with China even though it flagrantly violated international regulations.

    On the other hand, some observers believe China is juggling diplomacy with both sides to avoid being accused of unilaterally supporting the North.

    Still others say it is an example of "divide and rule." Kim Ki-soo at the Sejong Institute, said, "China is pursuing a two-timing strategy." Allowing Kim to visit just when the Seoul-Beijing summit is being held can be interpreted as a bid to use closer ties with North Korea as a bargaining chip in negotiations with South Korea.

    / May 23, 2011 13:32 KST
     
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  3. jazzguy

    jazzguy Regular Member

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    I think that China has to face the same juggling diplomacy situation when China is dealing with India and Pakistan.
     
  4. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    China Poised to Secure East Sea Shipping Route
    East Sea = Japan Sea

    An armored train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his entourage to China traveled non-stop for almost 30 hours from 2:20 p.m. on Saturday until 7:50 p.m. on Sunday, covering around 2,000 km from Jilin Province in the northeastern part of the country to Jiangsu Province in the south.

    It is the first time Kim has visited China's three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang and the southern industrial region at the same time. Previously Kim made separate trips to southern cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2001 and 2006 and to the three northeastern provinces in May and August last year. The three northeastern provinces are rich in natural resources and considered the least developed in the country, and Beijing is keen to develop them.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il leaves a facility in Changchun on Saturday. /Asahi TV
    China is apparently interested in using North Korea's Rajin-Sonbong port to ship resources, grain and timber more swiftly and cheaply from north to south. "It takes just a third of the costs to transport goods by ship from Rajin-Sonbong than it takes to move them by train," said Cho Bong-hyun, a researcher at IBK Economic Research Institute.

    In December last year, China conducted a trial run by shipping 500 truckloads of coal from Jilin to Shanghai via the port, and Beijing has apparently won the rights to use the North Korean port, which serves as a gateway to the East Sea.

    China and North Korea are also apparently going to hold a ground-breaking ceremony at the end of this month for a highway linking China's Hunchun and Rajin-Sonbong.

    With the visit, "Kim Jong-il seems to be stressing the message that investing in Rajin-Sonbong and North Korea could enable China to link the three resource-rich northeastern provinces with the southern industrial region," said Cho Young-ki, a North Korea expert at Korea University.

    If the maritime route comes into operation, it would effectively encircle South Korea. There is speculation that Kim Jong-il will attend another ground-breaking ceremony for a project to develop an industrial complex on Hwanggumpyong Island in the Apnok or Yalu River on his way back from China. "The maritime route could transport more than just materials," a diplomatic source said. "We could even see Chinese naval forces patrolling the East Sea." China and North Korea have apparently bolstered military ties since last year.

    China has been looking for an ice-free port for a long time. If it secures the maritime route, it could use the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula as its own.

    "From North Korea's perspective, economic cooperation with China is a matter of life and death and it needs the economic assistance badly enough to hand over Rajin-Sonbong port," the source said. Aid from South Korea and the U.S. has been halted since North Korea's attacks against the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year, and China is the only source of aid.
     

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