Make Korea China Again? Xi Jinping confirms colonial ambitions for Korea.

As regular readers of this site know, China is opposed to unilateral sanctions, except when it isn’t. In the case of North Korea, China is also opposed to the multilateral sanctions it voted for in the U.N. Security Council; consequently, North Korean missiles ride on Chinese trucks, North Korean proliferation networks operate openly on Chinese soil and launder their money through Chinese banks, North Korea’s weapons are made from components and technology procured from or through China, and those weapons are imported or exported through Chinese ports. North Korean abduction squads kidnap refugees and murder activists on Chinese territory, and North Korean spy rings operating inside South Korea meet in safe houses on the outskirts of Beijing.

China’s answer to these charges, as near as I can make sense of them, is that it only violates the sanctions it voted for because sanctions never work and it’s afraid they’ll work and it has no influence over North Korea anyway and also, it isn’t violating them. But China’s unilateral sanctions to disarm South Korea, which are clearly calculated to leave it prostrate to Pyongyang’s (and Beijing’s) blackmail, put the lie to all of this.

Thus, two weeks ago, I drew the unavoidable conclusion and advanced the inflammatory theory that China’s failure to reign in North Korea’s nuclear program might not be a failure at all. Perhaps North Korea’s nuclear program is a proxy for China to disarm, isolate, Finlandize, and control both Koreas. After all, one could excuse a few lapses in North Korea sanctions enforcement as oversights by a fundamentally corrupt state, but it isn’t plausible that the same people, front companies, and networks could have escaped the all-seeing eye of the world’s most efficiently intrusive surveillance state for decades. And now that Xi Jinping is revealed to have spoken the words that the peoples of Asia fear most — “part of China” — Koreans’ worst fears are confirmed. For the full interview, go here. Here is the quote in context:

But we had a really good meeting [with Chinese President Xi Jinping], and it was supposed to be 10 minute session and then you go into a room with hundreds of people, you know all different representatives, and the meeting was scheduled for 10 to 15 minutes, and it lasted for 3 hours. And then the second day we had another 10 minute meetings and that lasted for 2 hours. We had a — just a very good chemistry.

He then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years …and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that not — it’s not so easy. You know I felt pretty strongly that they have — that they had a tremendous power over China. I actually do think they do have an economic power, and they have certainly a border power to an extent, but they also — a lot of goods come in. But it’s not what you would think. It’s not what you would think. [WSJ]

If South Koreans are worried and outraged, both sentiments are well justified. The scars left by South Korea’s occupation by a certain other predatory neighbor are still raw and painful to South Koreans, and I would argue that the legacy of China’s influence over North Korea has been far worse than the legacy of Japan’s occupation — including war, famine, gulags, smothering thought control, and exploitation of women on a scale and severity comparable to Japan’s exploitation of wartime sex slaves.

In most news outlets, this story is being reported as a Trump faux-pas, which it certainly was to the extent Trump seemed to credit Xi’s imperialist narrative. But that is not the real story, because (1) the world already discounts Trump’s words in ways that it did not discount the words of other presidents, and (2) there are men and women in the White House who are smart enough to disabuse Trump of this nonsense, clean it up, and make the appropriate assurances to South Korea, despite that damage that has been done. Those assurances are going to be very, very important when we are three weeks out from an election in South Korea, when South Koreans are already wondering if we are still a reliable ally.

But in another sense, we should silently thank Donald Trump for (however unwittingly) telling us the real story, which the media seem to be missing entirely. The real story is that Xi Jinping just tipped his hand about his colonial ambitions to control all of Korea. Xi Jinping, after all, does not tweet. He does not ramble, muse, or offer idle, half-considered thoughts. He is nothing if not deliberate and calculating. He went to Mar-a-Lago with meticulously premeditated plans to influence the President of the United States in certain directions, to achieve a certain ambition.

The historically accurate truth is that Korea was never a “part” of China, but was a tributary nation under substantial Chinese influence or control for centuries. Put another way, there is no more historical basis to Xi’s claim than there is to the Northeast Asia Project or Xi’s claim that the South China Sea is a part of China now. Who believes that Xi Jinping will let either truth or law get in his way when he senses that the time has come to make his move? If I were living in South Korea, I’d want missile defense and nuclear weapons now more than ever. I’d also want a president with the greatest possible influence over the United States, and the backbone to stand up to Xi Jinping. In other words, I’d want a choice I don’t have — so I’d pick the lesser evil who can still win.


  1. For starters, Korea was under Chinese control on multiple occasions throughout history so it wasn’t exactly incorrect to say that. Plus, stop trying to read in to what Trump says so much, he is not Obama trying to destroy the U.S. In case you haven’t noticed, and the media rarely does, he keeps his plans close to the chest, like a real leader. Loud mouth Onitwit is no longer in charge, time to get back to protecting information the way it should be.


  2. For starters, when did we start to accept and support statements from the most powerful person in the world as well, it “wasn’t exactly incorrect”? Is it too much for us to expect relevant statements in this matter from our president to be accurate and sensitive?

    USA used to be “under control” of Great Britain… so who gives a crap? In my honest opinion, China would like to not only conquer the country of Korea, it WILL eventually want to challenge and “control” the United States of America!

    I fully agree that Korea MUST choose a leader (Ahn over Moon) who will have the greatest possible influence over the US and the
    backbone to stand up to Xi.


  3. For this article

    I tried to add the comment below the line, but it never got past the Global Times staffers. That sucks, because it seems like an awesome comment to me. The article has eighteen comments as of now; global indifference – not Global Times censorship – must explain this. Hi Global Times ! ! !

    ” . . . As a close neighbor to the Korean Peninsula . . . China has very limited influence on the entire situation . . .”

    Ummmm, no. China can very easily end all oil exports into North Korea and thereby euthanize North Korea as a threat. China should do this, because as a nation, North Korea no longer offers any positive benefit to China. The existing North Korean nuclear weapon forces, combined with North Korean ballistic missiles, mean that North Korea can very easily threaten Beijing itself – roughly 1200 kilometers / 750 miles from North Korea. Please don’t say this would never happen. The PRC and the USSR had a border war in 1969 and China invated Vietnam in 1979. If China sees North Korea as an “buffer” that keeps the American military away from the Yalu / Tumen Rivers, then skillful diplomacy can accomplish the same objective if and when South Korea unifies Korea. If a North Korean nuclear ICBM force enters service, the Peoples’ Republic of China can expect a North Korean nuclear attack on Beijing.


  4. China can not hope to have Korea as one of its provinces now or in the future and at the same time show that it actually has “very limited influence” over Pyongyang. It’s current economic retaliatory moves against Seoul over the THADD issue also shows the inherent bad faith relations the Beijing has employed with its neighbors in the past couple of years.

    If China can not stop Kim Jong Un, say so. Don’t bull shit our country that you can, so you can continue to rape us and other countries. Stop sending mixed signals to ROK and DPRK and the rest of the world. You stop coal from coming in yet you fund the crap out of NK so it becomes a bigger problem for you?

    If Xi Jin Ping can not handle the truth, its time the smart people in China start looking at a true democracy in which they can choose a leader of their CHOICE.


  5. The fact is NOTHING has changed in the past 100 days of Trump administration (other than I love Xi and he “likes” me and China is no longer a currency manipulator).

    Despite the coal ban, China appears to be accepting coal export from Kim and all the indications are the mutual trade between these communist countries is actually getting bigger. I am puzzled with all these positive comments (mostly from Trump) about what Xi is doing for us when not a damn thing has changed. On the contrary, the conflict has gotten much worse now that Trump’s recent statements pretty much elected Moon Jae In (sure to be Beijing’s butt- kisser) as the next “commander-in-chief” of Seoul on 5/9.

    “The Art of Deal”?, my ass.