I agree with the concept that a “grand bargain” with China is the only way to end the Kim regime’s nuclear weapons program, but I don’t think what the professor is recommending that the US offers in return would cause the Chinese to turn on the Kim regime:
The United States should seek a grand bargain with China that commits Beijing to use its leverage over North Korea to end its nuclear program in exchange for American concessions like the scrapping of a decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, a U.S. expert said Wednesday.
Amitai Etzioni, a George Washington University professor, made the point in an article in the National Interest, stressing that the “greatest threat” to U.S. security that the new American president will have to confront is North Korea.
The professor said that efforts to simply “urge” or “shame” China into acting won’t work.
“The costs to China if it were to move to rein in North Korea are considerable. China views living with a Communist-ruled nuclear-armed state on its border as preferable to the chaos of its collapse,” he said.
Instead, China should be offered a deal based on “differential salience,” which means that each side should get what’s important to its national interests from the other side by giving up what’s less important.
“China might well have a high interest in gaining assurances that if the North Korean regime collapses and the two Koreas are unified, the United States will not move its troops to the border with China,” the professor said. “This is a no- or low-cost proposition for the United States, because once the North Korean nuke program folds or the regime collapses, the United States should be quite content not to move its troops north.”
He also said that the U.S. could offer not to deploy THAAD because once the North’s s nuclear missile program is no longer an acute threat, the United States should be quite willing not to place THAAD in South Korea. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but for the Chinese to turn on the Kim regime I think they would want something extremely significant in return that meets their security interests. North Korea is a buffer state for them that can also be counted on as a third actor if conflict with Taiwan for example was to occur to tie up US forces. This is a huge strategic benefit from the Chinese perspective. That is why I think the complete removal of USFK from the peninsula is the only thing that would get the Chinese attention.
From the Chinese perspective if the Kim regime is removed and the Koreas are united what other reason would the US have to keep troops in Korea other than to threaten China? I don’t think the Chinese would even go for this proposal and would push for more US concessions in regards to Taiwan to really strike a deal, but I think any proposal would have to include the removal of US troops from Korea.
Maybe I am wrong, does anyone else have any differing opinions on what it would take to strike a deal with China?