Wada surprise… https://t.co/DZFG3EEFMG
— tomcoyner (@tomcoyner) January 26, 2018
Below is a fascinating read in the Nikkei Asian Review about how the Kim regime has long claimed that Northeastern China should be ceded to North Korea:
Back in May 2000, Kim Jong Il made his first trip to China as North Korea’s top leader. An informal visit, it was kept under wraps until Kim, the father of North Korea’s current leader, returned to Pyongyang.
Kim had a big request for Jiang Zemin, then China’s president.
“I am preparing for an inspection of the northeast region [of China],” Kim told Jiang. “Could you make arrangements for it?”
Jiang’s face contorted into a quizzical expression. The word Kim used was the Korean equivalent of shicha, a Chinese term meaning inspection. Inspections are what leaders conduct to see how their own common people are doing.
Kim’s use of inspection not only contradicted reality, it was disrespectful to China.
Jiang told Kim in a calm manner, “In your case, you mean visit, correct?”
“No,” Kim snapped back immediately. “It is an inspection. My father [Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first leader] told me that the entire ‘northeast’ belongs to us.”
Stunned by Kim’s response, Jiang asked the North Korean leader, “How can the ‘northeast’ be all yours?”
“This is not my father’s view,” Kim said. “This is a remark made by Chairman Mao Zedong,” the founding father of the People’s Republic of China.
Again, Jiang was flabbergasted. This time, he summoned an official from the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department and ordered him to check whether Mao had actually made such a remark in the past.
The official reported back to Jiang the following afternoon, confirming Mao’s remarks. [Nikkei Asian Review]
You can read the rest at the link, but Mao made a comment to Kim Il-sung how prior Korean dynasties had been pushed out of Northeast China to south of the Yalu River by past Chinese emperors. Kim Il-sung used that comment to justify North Korea being ceded a chunk of Northeast China which Chinese leaders over the years have scoffed at to include when Kim Jong-il brought it up. It is unclear if the current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shares such delusions of grandeur, but considering that his grandfather and father believed in it, I would not be surprised if Kim Jong-un doesn’t bring up the issue again at some point with China as well.
In long interview with Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, President Trump had plenty to say about how China has not been helpful enough with enforcing sanctions on North Korea:
SCHMIDT: Explain your North Korea tweet to me today.
TRUMP: Which one?
SCHMIDT: You said about the oil, that China. …
SCHMIDT: What’s going on there. Tell me about that.
TRUMP: Yeah, China. … China’s been. … I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China. You know that. The presentations. … One of the great two days of anybody’s life and memory having to do with China. He’s a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him, we have a great chemistry together. He’s [inaudible] of the United States. …[Inaudible.] China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?
[Cross talk with guests.]
SCHMIDT: Can you finish your thought on North Korea. What’s going on with China?
TRUMP: I’m disappointed. You know that they found oil going into. …
SCHMIDT: But how recently?
TRUMP: It was very recently. In fact, I hate to say, it was reported this morning, and it was reported on Fox. Oil is going into North Korea. That wasn’t my deal!
SCHMIDT: What was the deal?
TRUMP: My deal was that, we’ve got to treat them rough. They’re a nuclear menace so we have to be very tough.
RUDDY: Mr. President, was that a picture from recent or was that months ago? I don’t know. …
TRUMP: Oil is going into North Korea, I know. Oil is going into North Korea. So I’m not happy about it.
SCHMIDT: So what are you going to do?
TRUMP: We’ll see. That I can’t tell you, Michael. But we’ll see. I can tell you one thing: This is a problem that should have been handled for the last 25 years. This is a problem, North Korea. That should have been handled for 25, 30 years, not by me. This should have been handled long before me. Long before this guy has whatever he has.
SCHMIDT: Do you think we’ve been too soft on China on North Korea?
TRUMP: No, look, I like China, and I like him a lot. But, as you know, when I campaigned, I was very tough on China in terms of trade. They made — last year, we had a trade deficit with China of $350 billion, minimum. That doesn’t include the theft of intellectual property, O.K., which is another $300 billion. So, China — and you know, somebody said, oh, currency manipulation. If they’re helping me with North Korea, I can look at trade a little bit differently, at least for a period of time. And that’s what I’ve been doing. But when oil is going in, I’m not happy about that. I think I expressed that in probably [inaudible].
TRUMP, as aides walk by: And, by the way, it’s not a tweet. It’s social media, and it gets out in the world, and the reason I do well is that I can be treated unfairly and very dishonestly by CNN, and, you know, I have — what do have now, John, 158 million, including Facebook, including Twitter, including Instagram, including every form, I have a 158 million people. Reporting just this morning, they said 158 million. So if they a do a story that’s false, I can do something — otherwise, Andy, otherwise you just sort of walk around saying what can I do? What, am I going to have a press conference every time somebody, every time Michael writes something wrong?
So, China on trade has ripped off this country more than any other element of the world in history has ripped off anything. But I can be different if they’re helping us with North Korea. If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do. China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more. And they have to help us much more. We have a nuclear menace out there, which is no good for China, and it’s not good for Russia. It’s no good for anybody. Does that make sense?
SCHMIDT: Yeah, yeah, it makes a lot of sense.
TRUMP: The only thing that supersedes trade to me — because I’m the big trade guy, I got elected to a certain extent on trade. You see, I’m renegotiating Nafta, or I’ll terminate it. If I don’t make the right deal, I’ll terminate Nafta in two seconds. But we’re doing pretty good. You know, it’s easier to renegotiate it if we make it a fair deal because Nafta was a terrible deal for us. We lost $71 billion a year with Mexico, can you believe it? $17 billion with Canada — Canada says we broke even. But they don’t include lumber and they don’t include oil. Oh, that’s not. … [Inaudible,] … My friend Justin he says, “No, no, we break even.” I said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not including oil, and you’re not including lumber.” When you do, you lose $17 billion, and with the other one, we’re losing $71 billion. So the only thing that supersedes trade to me is war. If we can solve the North Korea problem. China cannot. …
SCHMIDT: You still think there’s a diplomatic solution?
TRUMP: China has a tremendous power over North Korea. Far greater than anyone knows.
SCHMIDT: Why haven’t they stood up?
TRUMP: I hope they do, but as of this moment, they haven’t. They could be much stronger.
SCHMIDT: But why not?
TRUMP: China can solve the North Korea problem, and they’re helping us, and they’re even helping us a lot, but they’re not helping us enough. [New York Times]
If the Chinese government wanted this illegal activity to be stopped they could easily stop it, but they are clearly turning a blind eye to this illegal activity. The publication of these satellite photographs is clearly a signal to the Chinese that their bluff is being called after more stringent UN sanctions were passed last week against North Korea:
U.S. reconnaissance satellites have spotted Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean vessels on the West Sea around 30 times since October.
According to South Korean government sources, the satellites have pictured large Chinese and North Korean ships illegally trading in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea.
The satellite pictures even show the names of the ships. A government source said, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”
The U.S. Treasury Department placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships on sanctions list on Nov. 21, when it published spy satellite images taken on Oct. 19 showing a ship named Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel. [Chosun Ilbo]
You can read more at the link.
I tend to agree with this analysis from Carl Schuster from Hawaii Pacific University:
But if U.S. forces were to enter North Korea, how China responds will depend largely on why, said Carl Schuster, a retired Navy captain who now lectures at Hawaii Pacific University.
“Let’s say North Korea does something stupid like launches a missile that lands in South Korea or hits a U.S. base, or North Korea suddenly fires some artillery rounds across the DMZ and Seoul, if North Korea does that, China will have no problem with us pounding North Korea’s government into the dirt,” he said.
But there is a difference between aerial strikes and troops on the ground, and how the Chinese regime will respond to either is uncertain. At the very least, Beijing will seek international pressure to stop a U.S. offensive.
But while crossing the 38th parallel may be tolerated under some circumstances, taking the North Korean capital will not be, he said.
“If it looks like we are going to go north of Pyongyang, in their minds, that will be a red line.”
China may tolerate U.S. forces crossing the border to crush the North Korean army, he said, but he expects Beijing would send forces to occupy Pyongyang. North Korea’s capital will remain a no-go zone, he said.
“If North Korea initiates the conflict, China will watch it closely, prepare for North Korea’s defeat, but they won’t intervene if we don’t go to far.” [The Epoch Times]
You can read much more at the link, but I have always believed there is a strong possibility the Chinese would move in and occupy Pyongyang if they feared the US or ROK were going to occupy North Korea. This would not be a repeat though of the massive Chinese intervention into the Korean War where they played a significant combat role. Instead I believe the Chinese will rapidly, but openly move into Pyongyang under the guise of being peacekeepers.
If the US or the ROK were to attack the Chinese troops they would be initiating combat against peacekeepers. I think this will likely prevent any action against the Chinese troops and give Beijing a strong negotiating hand to settle the conflict in a way favorable to Chinese interests.
The Venerable Pomnyun Sunim is a Buddhist monk who has done aid work inside of North Korea. He believes based off his experience and history of North Korea that China is not the answer to resolving the current nuclear issue:
Today, the North Korean leadership considers China to be the primary threat to regime survival. Despite paying lip service to their alliance, the Kim dynasty cannot afford to have any forces within the regime answer to foreign governments, especially China with its huge influence on North Korea’s viability.
This has always been the case. In August 1956, Kim Il Sung purged people he suspected of seeking to overthrow him with backing from the Chinese Communist Party. Soon afterward, Kim forced Mao Zedong to remove all remaining Chinese military presence — which had saved him during the Korean War — from North Korea.
His son, Kim Jong-il, was also quoted as saying that the Chinese should never be trusted. This underlying mistrust seems to be the reason behind the death of Jang Song-thaek and Kim Jong-nam, both of whom were suspected as China’s potential alternatives to the current leadership.
As such, allowing Chinese pressure, whether economic or political, to dictate the terms of North Korea’s national security goes against the country’s fundamental nature and self-interest of the current regime. A nation founded on anti-imperialism simply cannot allow an imperial power, even a nominally friendly one, to interfere in its own affairs. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link, but I would say that most people that closely follow the North Korean nuclear issue know that China is not the answer because the status quo is in their national interest. However, before other options are executed the US government has a responsibility to try all diplomatic angles which working with the Chinese is one of those options even if expectations are low of it working.
With the ROK President ending his visit to China this week the timing of this breach of the South Korea’s Air Defense Identification Zone cannot be coincidental:
Five Chinese military aircraft, including bombers and fighter jets, breached Korea’s air defense identification zone (Kadiz) Monday morning without notice, prompting the South Korean Air Force to scramble its fighters in response.
The Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced that at around 10:10 a.m. Monday, five Chinese military planes were detected entering the Kadiz from southwest of Ieodo, underwater reefs located south of Jeju Island controlled by Korea that belong in waters that both Seoul and Beijing claim.
The Chinese aircraft were said to have included two nuclear-capable Xian H-6 bombers, two J-11 fighter jets and a Tu-154 reconnaissance plane. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link, but this is likely just another attempt to put pressure on the ROK to show Chinese unhappiness with the THAAD deployment.