China faces criticism over its involvement in North Korea issues
Last week, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin, characterized North Korea as a “clear and immediate threat”, in light of Kim Jong Un’s persistent missile testing and repeated statements indicating his willingness to employ tactical nuclear weapons.
“What North Korea is doing is completely wrong,” Park told CNN in an exclusive interview. “They have been escalating nuclear and missile threats, and threatening the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.”
Despite this, analyst who lean towards a pro-Western perspective have expressed apprehension about the involvement of China and Russia in Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches.
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In the past, the United States has accused Russia and China of extending “complete protection” to North Korea by obstructing any additional action by the United Nations Security Council. The US also claimed that both countries have gone to great lengths to defend North Korea’s ballistic missile launches.
“You don’t get to abandon Security Council responsibilities because North Korea might sell you weapons to fuel your war of aggression in Ukraine, or because you think they make a good regional buffer to the United States,” U.S Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council, referring to Russia and China.
North Korea’s record-high number of missile provocations last year and China has been accused of neglecting its responsibilities as a member of the Security Council and openly supporting North Korea.
This has led to China voluntarily taking on the role of North Korea’s guardian, thereby aiding and abetting its provocations. China, together with Russia, has also rejected new resolutions to impose sanctions on North Korea and ignored the loopholes in existing sanctions, which has increased security instability on the Korean Peninsula.
China has ignored calls from the international community to use its influence to persuade North Korea to return to the negotiation table for denuclearization, despite being capable of implementing various means to deter the north.
Its actions are a result of an outdated Cold War mentality and the belief that a nuclear-armed North Korea is better than a collapsed North Korea, as it alligns with China’s strategic competition with the United States.
North Korea, in turn, relies on its inter-dependency with China to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles, and uses China as a “security insurance” against global sanctions. However, China’s continued defense of North Korea could lead to serious consequences, such as the loss of its status as a responsible member of the G2 and P5 and the spread of “China threat theory” following the “Wold-warrior diplomacy.”
If China continues to defend North Korea, it could deepen security dilemmas and further isolate itself, as it would strengthen the military cooperation between the ROK, US, and Japan and increase the possibility of deploying additional US strategic weapons. Therefore, China needs to stop pursuing hegemony and playing a constructive role in North Korea-related issues to position itself as a respected global power.
China should no longer tolerate North Korea’s nuclear advancement activities and lead the international community in punishing the country for such behaviour. Encouraging China to adopt a cooperative attitude towards North Korea issues and opening up negotiations with the US on key interests, such as the conflict over the Taiwan Strait, could also be a viable option.
The international community should also take action and form an alliance to pressure China to use its influence over North Korea and comply with global sanctions against the country, urging it to revise its pro-North Korea policies.