Saturday, May 15, 2010

China’s support of North Korea based on concerns over its collapse

Talks were held on the sidelines of an East Asia conference between the top diplomats from China, Japan and South Korea.

China, North Korea’s only major ally, irritated major trading partner South Korea earlier this month by hosting the reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on a rare trip abroad -- before the outcome of the Cheonan investigation was announced.

A number of analysts believe China is so nervous about a collapse of the impoverished state that it is prepared to prop up Kim's government at almost any cost.

Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified source as saying Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had urged a measured response against whoever may have been behind the attack. Senior South Korean officials declined to detail Yang's comments at the meeting in the ancient capital of Shilla, the Buddhist kingdom that ruled the Korean peninsula in the first millennium.

South Korea knows it cannot launch a retaliatory strike against the North without risking greater conflict and undermining its own economy, which is just recovering from the global financial slump. But it does want international punishment of the North. That would likely mean even tougher sanctions by the United Nations, which would need China's support to take effect.


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