China: The John Edwards of Diplomacy

[Update: According to this story, Wen put off signing an economic development deal with Pyongyang worth “several billion dollars” dollars after Kim Jong Il failed to provide a “clear” statement about returning to six-party talks. I can’t say whether China’s offer came with the Obama Administration’s tacit approval or provoked quiet disapproval, but if we’re back in the business of paying North Korea to come back to talks to stall and lie, we’re right back at square one. The only things that change are the size of Kim Jong Il’s arsenal and the number of bones strewn in the fields and forests of the camps.]

The nations are not united. In the Wall Street Journal, Gordon Chang reveals details of a massive aid package China has just delivered to not-even-slightly disarmed North Korea:

Analysts were surprised at the time that the reclusive North Korean supremo made the trip to the tarmac to show his affection. Now we know why: Mr. Wen came to the North Korean capital less to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea–the ostensible purpose of the trip–than to sign commercial pacts with it. By doing so, China undoubtedly violated United Nations Security Resolution 1874 by giving Kim the means to keep his nuclear arsenal in the face of intense international pressure.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, was sparse with details on the deals. It merely stated the two communist states “signed a series of agreements on cooperation and announced that a new highway bridge over the Yalu River will be built.” But reports from South Korean newspapers indicate Beijing, as a part of a comprehensive package, also agreed to provide financial assistance to Kim’s destitute state. Chinese grants to the North total at least $200 million.

Say it aint so — a member of the U.N. Security Council flagrantly violating a resolution it voted for just four months ago, thereby stabbing Barack Obama in the back? What about international institutions? Have they no reverence for a holy man, a living god, a confidant of Richard Gere, and recipient of the Nobel freaking Peace Prize? This will never pass the Global Test, I tell you!

Me: What else did you expect? After a brief display of compliance, trade stats show that between China and North Korea, the last year has been business as usual. One thing this tells us — the sanctions must have been working if Wen Jiabao went all the way to a backward stinkhole like Pyongyang to violate and undermine them. This seems like a good time to review the operative provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, which passed with the unanimous support of all Security Council members, including China, on June 12th:

18. Calls upon Member States, in addition to implementing their obligations pursuant to paragraphs 8 (d) and (e) of resolution 1718 (2006), to prevent the provision of financial services or the transfer to, through, or from their territory, or to or by their nationals or entities organized under their laws (including branches abroad), or persons or financial institutions in their territory, of any financial or other assets or resources that could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs or activities, including by freezing any financial or other assets or resources on their territories or that hereafter come within their territories, or that are subject to their jurisdiction or that hereafter become subject to their jurisdiction, that are associated with such programs or activities and applying enhanced monitoring to prevent all such transactions in accordance with their national authorities and legislation;

19. Calls upon all Member States and international financial and credit institutions not to enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, or concessional loans to the DPRK, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes directly addressing the needs of the civilian population, or the promotion of denuclearization, and also calls upon States to exercise enhanced vigilance with a view to reducing current commitments;

20. Calls upon all Member States not to provide public financial support for trade with the DPRK (including the granting of export credits, guarantees or insurance to their nationals or entities involved in such trade) where such financial support could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear-related or ballistic missile-related or other WMD-related programs or activities;

President Obama’s North Korea policy is being challenged by China, the paymaster and arsenal of the world’s most vile fascist regimes. If China is allowed to undermine these sanctions, time will be on North Korea’s side, and North Korea will go right on perfecting its nuclear arsenal. Mr. President, you know what you have to do.

And of course, there is yet another option to reincentivize a duplicitous China. China is afraid of refugees streaming into its territory. Do you suppose that China might be even more afraid of refugees armed with Tokarevs and RPG’s streaming onto its territory and capping ChiCom police and soldiers who try to deport them back to the gulag? That would seem a case of legitimate self-defense if I’ve ever seen one. China has pretty much spent the last ten years holding down the North Korean people while Kim Jong Il raped them. It’s time for North Korea’s agony to become China’s agony, too.

8 Comments

  1. Friday Greetings Mr. Stanton,

    With reference to what our President knows what he must do: it has been nearly two years since you posted your excellent “Plan B: How to Disarm Kim Jong Il Without Bombing Him”. Since then, what has been done to get the ideas therein circulating in the right places?




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  2. Hey, I can’t complain. Obama’s current policy is really Plan B Lite. Certainly I don’t hold a copyright on these ideas. Stuart Levey and Daniel Glaser, who were held over from the last administration, are the architects of the key ones, along with others like David Asher, Robert Joseph, and most ironically of all, John Bolton. Really, Bolton’s UNSCR 1718 has had a far greater influence on Obama’s policy than Chris Hill’s AF 2.0, which is a dead letter today. Now it’s just a matter of us having the will to raise the stakes on the ChiComs to make this blockade work.




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  3. “…China, the paymaster and arsenal of the world’s most vile fascist regimes.”

    And chief enabler of US deficit spending.

    “Do you suppose that China might be even more afraid of refugees armed with Tokarevs and RPG’s streaming onto its territory and capping ChiCom police and soldiers who try to deport them back to the gulag? “

    Absolutely. Several years ago, reports of North Korean soldiers and civilians robbing locals and killing one couple fostered a climate of fear in Yanbian. Refugees surviving in northern China almost certainly depend on the goodwill of some local Chinese, goodwill that might evaporate if North Koreans start shooting at PLA soldiers. Just as many Americans have family members, neighbors, and friends serving in our military, so do many Chinese, who will demand the government bring the killers to justice and make the border area safe again.




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  4. China is afraid of refugees streaming into its territory. Do you suppose that China might be even more afraid of refugees armed with Tokarevs and RPG’s streaming onto its territory and capping ChiCom police and soldiers who try to deport them back to the gulag?

    I’m assuming this is a reference to KPA soldiers? Or are you suggesting refugees looting KPA arsenals or something? I’m reminded of the border scuffles of the Cultural Revolution in Yanbian…Sounds frightful.

    @Sonagi, do you have any citations for the incident you mentioned about rogue KPA killing a couple in Yanbian? I recall stories about lone KPA border guards intruding into Chinese territory with their weapons, but I have never heard of such a murder case. Very curious.

    I also enjoyed Gordon Chang’s fact-laden editorial and appreciate your linking to it but wonder if Gordon Chang, or any one else, concedes that China needs to keep its northeastern economy going and needs access to North Korean minerals in particular. What I mean to say is not by way of Peking apology, it’s a question of factions within the Chinese Communist Party that represent capitalist concerns and that don’t want to see access cut to North Korean natural resources. There are two really magnificent essays in the new, open source, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs (Vol. 38, No. 3) that explore this notion of CCP factionalism as it effects the formulation and implementation of Chinese economic and foreign policy.

    In other words, the evolving nature of the Communist Party (who really might be called ChiCaps in your parlance ever since Jiang Zemin and his Shanghai technocratic fashion took over) might be shifting the justification for the Sino-North Korean alliance onto different plane which requires economic cooperation, joint ventures, etc.

    Just a thought, but then again it’s Friday afternoon and I can already smell the soju.

    Last thing — there’s an interesting NPR report today which you might be interested in re: anti-American education in North Korea. Nothing particularly new here, but you seem to have a gift for scenting out the contestable stuff in any source in a productive way.




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  5. @Adam:

    I recall a murder of a Chinese couple by a North Korean that got lots of attention but do not recall whether it was a soldier or a civilian. Will search this weekend for a link.




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  6. The Chinese-Koreans and missionaries would have nothing to fear from the North Korean resistance. Some would be willing to host and support it, and no doubt some wouldn’t. The Chinese police, on the other hand, would have their first incentive to avoid confronting, torturing, raping, deporting, and generally shaking down North Korean refugees. The regime would of course then flood the area with troops and squeeze the local people, further alienating the ethnic Koreans in the area.

    I have no great desire to create widows and orphans in China, I only want to reduce the aggregate amount of suffering, suffering that China is willfully enabling through a policy of sending innocent people to die. Right now, the vast majority of that suffering is in North Korea. If unrest spreading to China causes Chinese to question the decisions of their government, so much the better. Best of all would be the China deciding to open well regulated feeding stations and refugee camps. You think people won’t question why Chinese soldiers and police are dying to prop up Kim Jong Il? Ask any “Truther.”

    North Korea isn’t going to change peacefully. Non-violence is useless against regime’s like China’s and North Korea’s. The suffering will only end if the system is overthrown violently. In the case of North Korea, the system is much more fragile than it seems. The regime’s infrastructure is already creaking. If it’s denied the use of one strategic corridor between Pyongyang and Sinuiju, it may very well collapse. If the infrastructure that serves the provincial areas is cut, those areas can be isolated from the center. The regime lacks the financial and military means to survive if a determined insurgency grows in its vast, roadless center, draws the army into the countryside, and strains its logistics, repair shops, fuel supplies, and morale.

    The sooner we resign ourselves to the futility of gradualism, the sooner the killing will stop. Until we resign ourselves to this, it won’t.




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  7. The Chinese-Koreans and missionaries would have nothing to fear from the North Korean resistance. Some would be willing to host and support it, and no doubt some wouldn’t.

    On what basis do you think that Korean-Chinese would shelter and support armed North Korean guerillas? The joseonjok I knew in China were genuinely loyal to China. Culturally they were nearly indistinguishable from Han, save for the Korean-language chatter in the home and the Korean dishes alongside Chinese ones on the table. In fact, South Koreans themselves note the significant cultural differences between themselves and ethnic Koreans in China, and thus consider them as Chinese who speak funny Korean. Chinese in general fear instability and chaos more than they fear tyranny. I just don’t envison locals of any ethnicity in northern China offering any support to snipers or other armed guerillas. Just don’t see it. Rather, I think locals are more likely to out any suspected refugees unless those refugees have strong family ties.




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  8. The suffering will only end if the system is overthrown violently….The regime lacks the financial and military means to survive if a determined insurgency grows in its vast, roadless center, draws the army into the countryside, and strains its logistics, repair shops, fuel supplies, and morale.

    Is a “determined insurgency” possible? 1) Who would fund and supply this? 2) Who would make up this insurgency? 3) Haven’t decades of classicide – a failed PDS and terrorizing the population (concentration camps) – crippled the sector of the population (~8 million) that could make the most impact?

    The sooner we resign ourselves to the futility of gradualism, the sooner the killing will stop. Until we resign ourselves to this, it won’t.
    Well put…reminds me of Christopher Hitchens on Darfur:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAhwgQ2HoF0




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