Will China Step Up to Stop North Korea?

North Korea

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, believes Kim Jong Un is lacking the power of reason. Her made this assessment after the North Korean dictator simultaneously launched five ballistic missiles toward the East Sea.

Analysis of Dictator’s Intent

Scholars studying Kim disagree with Haley. Prof. Andrei Lankov from Kookmin University in Seoul said:

“He is perfectly rational. He sometimes overdoes it. He sometimes tends to apply excessive force. Why kill hundreds of generals when dozens will do?”

Prof. John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul, agrees that Kim is a rational leader. Therefore, calculated killings serve a purpose. He assassinates traitors, hence preventing a coup. “…young kings often kill their uncles and elder brothers. It may be cruel, but it is not ‘irrational.’” If only the king, and his direct descendants, can claim the throne, he cannot be overthrown.

It is rational for Kim to obtain nuclear weapons; North Korea does not have any dependable allies, and a hostile powerhouse has invaded and overthrown dominant states worldwide. If Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons, he may have avoided arrest by U.S. soldiers. Muammar Gaddafi believed America’s promises and did not develop nuclear weapons. However, leader and his family members lost their lives. The U.S., Great Britain, and Russia failed Ukraine and they will do the same to North Korea.

Kim will not be fooled by promises of protection from any government. Therefore, he will protect his own country.

What Does North Korea Want?

Prof. Brian Myers, from Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea, stated that the dictator wants Korea to be united. This is the most likely way for his regime to survive. His “military first” policy is to guarantee the final victory; to bring the peninsula under his regime.

If North Korea had nuclear weapons, it could force the U.S. military out of the Demilitarized Zone and take control. However, Prof. Myers thinks Kim would use the missiles to push South Korea and the U.S. to sign a peace treaty. This allows for a quiet take over.

Prof. Lankov believes the desire for nuclear weapons is strictly survival based. He does believe the leader also wants growth and prosperity for his country, but it is not a top priority.

Response From China and US

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on March 18, 2017. Then, it was decided that the two countries would work together to deter Kim from further developing his arsenal. Nevertheless, against U.N sanctions, North Korea administered five nuclear tests and fired missiles toward the East Sea. Government officials believe the dictator is already building nuclear-warheads that could reach the U.S.

Currently, the ballistic missiles tested can reach Japan, China, and South Korea. Therefore, Kim has the power to dissolve troops protecting the Demilitarized Zone. The North Korean dictator stated he is almost ready to test intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Tillerson stated publicly, the U.S is committed to the prevention of conflict in North Korea, which includes military action. China is against the use of such measures, fearing it will escalate the issue. Professor of international relations at Boston University, William Keylor, said Tillerson is putting pressure on China to step up and stop Kim through the threat of a preemptive strike.

China’s Concern

China does not want the North Korean regime to fall. The country fears Kim’s fall would send thousands of refugees into the China. Thus, followed by armed South Korean and U.S. forces on the border. Nevertheless, China seemed ready to stop the regime in February.  The country banned coal imports from North Korea for the remainder of the year. This removed a critical source of income for Kim, hopefully deterring further weapons development.

Kim stated, “The whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries.” He announced the successful tests were a re-birth for the “Juche-based rocket industry.” Juche is the name of the self-reliant ideology carried by North Korea.

By Jeanette Smith

Sources:

BBC: Is North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un rational?
Global News: Kim Kim says engine test is ‘new birth’ of rocked industry in North Korea
Boston Herald: Rex Tillerson, China turn up heat on N. Korea

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of NOS Nieuws’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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