China will likely never give up being North Korea’s puppet master so long as it gives legitimacy and recognition on the world stage as a third-party negotiator or go-to for the northern Communist regime.
Of course, the North Korean leadership is worried that China will use its dominance over North Korea’s economy to involve itself in internal North Korean affairs. The execution of Jang Song Thaek may have been a result of such concerns.
At the same time, China cannot help but direct more discontent and annoyance at North Korea. North Korea is staying afloat on Chinese assistance, but the country has implemented a political stance that is causing much difficulty for the Chinese.
Moreover, China’s leaders remember little about the Korean War and have little reason to continue helping North Korea.
But when considering long-term geopolitical goals and interests, China believes that maintaining a division of the two Koreas is a desirable option. This is because of the deepening confrontation between the U.S. and China.
From China’s perspective, North Korea is a buffer zone that blocks U.S. influence on the Korean Peninsula and forces U.S. troops to be stationed at a distance from China.
As the China Academy of Social Sciences report suggests, if China someday abandons North Korea, the North’s system will likely collapse. And ultimately, the Korean Peninsula could become united under the flag of South Korea.
If the Korean Peninsula is unified by South Korea, China will try in a number of ways to establish a good relationship with South Korea and attempt to minimize American influence in the country. However, China would not have an easy time doing this.
Beijing’s view is that it wants to avoid taking any measures that could create a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. And therefore there is no reason to think that the Chinese report reflects an important shift in Chinese policy. At this stage in the game, China does not want the Korean Peninsula to be unified.
Full article: ‘China Does Not Want the Korean Peninsula to Be Unified’ (Radio Free Asia)