Monday, August 03, 2009

China keeps US waiting re: discussing North Korea’s future

China’s North Korea specialists and think tanks are apparently studying possible post-Kim futures, from a peaceful transition to a new government to factional warfare.

Both Washington and Beijing are growing more anxious about the stability of the Korean Peninsula but US attempts to draw up a broad contingency plan concerning North Korea is being complicated by China’s refusal to talk about it.

There is much Washington wants to go over with Beijing in a meltdown scenario: securing North Korea’s nuclear weapons, dealing with panicked North Koreans overrunning borders and drawing up ground rules to keep the US and Chinese militaries from clashing as they did in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The US has raised the idea of joint talks in several meetings with senior Chinese officials, the Associated Press has learned from foreign diplomats and Chinese scholars briefed on the meetings. But Chinese officials rejected the overtures.

Beijing has ample reasons for not drawing too close to Washington. Should North Korea learn about US-China talks on a post-Kim future, Beijing is worried that its already touchy ally would become more difficult to deal with. If Kim’s regime crumbles, China’s communist leadership may want to preserve North Korea as a buffer state, rather than see a unified Korea ruled by US-allied Seoul that could bring a democratic government and American troops to China’s doorstep.

[The News (Pakistan)]

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