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China swiftly becoming exasperated with North Korea

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

America's former top diplomat in Asia says that there are clear signs that China has become exasperated with North Korea. New leader Kim Jong Un - known as "Fatty the Third," in reference to his father and grandfather, the former dictators of North Korea rhetoric has put an enormous strain on China, pressed to address other problems. Furthermore, once North Korea gets nuclear weapons, he says, there's no guarantee that North Korea won't play nuclear blackmail with China!

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - China has been North Korea's closest ally for many years, as well as its largest trade partner and primary source of aid.

Kurt Campbell, the former head of the State department in Asia now says that there are signs that a relationship once described by Chairman Mao to be "as close as lips and teeth" is wearing thin.

"There is a subtle shift in Chinese foreign policy. Over the short to medium term, that has the potential to affect the calculus in northeast Asia," Campbell said at a forum at John Hopkins University.

Campbell, left the State department in February to found his own consultancy firm, and was at one time one of the architects of the U.S. diplomatic and military "pivot" towards Asia.

"I do not think that subtle shift can be lost on Pyongyang," he said. "They need a close relationship with China for every conceivable reason. It's not in their strategic interest to alienate every country that surrounds them.

"The most important new ingredient has been recognition in China that their previous approach to North Korea is not bearing fruit."

Campbell told the Wall Street Journal that China "cannot be happy" with North Korea and that a harder line may arrive out of Beijing.

Beijing appears to prefer the devil it knows, he says. China is most unwilling to discuss how to deal with North Korea with South Korea and the U.S. They don't welcome the American influence a reunified Korean peninsula could bring.

Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea expert at the International Crisis Group, said Beijing was "fed up" at the distractions being created by Pyongyang while it tries to focus its energies on other problems. "They need to address issues in the South China Sea, they have a corruption campaign going on at home, North Korea is giving them a headache," Pinkston says.

China's relationship with North Korea had become a liability, he says. "Why should China maintain relations with a regime and a country that will face failure sooner or later?" he asked. "Once North Korea has nuclear weapons, it cannot be ruled out that the capricious Kim regime will engage in nuclear blackmail against China," he added.

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