Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Balancing Act, Fatally Fumbled

Pyongyang’s missile tests not only gave Japan an excuse to re-arm, but also sort of spread a red carpet for the country to walk right into the heart of the international community. Some pundits expect Japan to renew its frustrated effort to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

In the wake of China's first-ever support for a North Korea resolution, Chinese President Hu Jintao reaffirmed his position when the meeting of Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries in Russia published its own statement condemning the missile tests

North Korea must have felt a sense of betrayal. But the North forced China’s hand when it went ahead with the tests despite pleas from Beijing to desist.

North Korea's play with fire has had all sorts of unexpected results in the region. Japan, which committed itself to pacifism after its World War II excesses, has gained a foothold for transforming itself into a "normal state" by revising the "peace constitution," and China is showing signs of abandoning its special relationship with North Korea.

Our [South Korean] government did not support the Japanese draft, expecting China to prop it up where its own influence fell short. It reckoned entirely without China's change of heart. Where are they now, the [South Korean] government figures who bragged only last year that Korea would play the role of a “balancer” between Japan and China?

[Excerpt from Chosun Journal editorial]

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