NK Plays Up to China
Robert D. Kaplan in an October 2006 article in Atlantic Monthly argued Chinese designs on North Korea are a bigger threat to the Kim Jong Il regime than American military might ever could be, and that Kim Jong Il rightfully fears China more than the U.S. The publication of recent reports stating that China has contingency plans to occupy the North in the event of chaos south of the Yalu only continue to add weight to Kaplan’s prophecy. Now, in the wake of Chinese envoy Wang Jiarui’s visit to Pyongyang, details are emerging that add even more evidence to this hypothesis. First, Wang rebuked Kim for failing to cooperate with the Six Party Talks:
Wang explicitly voiced dissatisfaction about North Korea’s failure to meet the deadline for the disablement of its nuclear facilities under a series of six-nation denuclearization agreements
Kim retorted with, what the Chosun Ilbo called a “baffling pledge:”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il caused some head-scratching when he unexpectedly pledged not to break faith with China in a meeting with a high-ranking Chinese official.
Put into proper context, it’s not so baffling. Xinhua (via DailyNK) reports Kim stressing the special ties between the two country’s Communist Parties:
“The friendship between Chosun (North Korea) and China is the most precious property that both parties (the Chinese Communist Party and the Chosun Workers Party) and the senior leaders of our two countries left for us.”
However, it should be mentioned that Kim Jong Il did reject President Hu’s invitation to attend the Olympics in August.
Meanwhile, in the Tumen River Basin, China and Russia are grappling for control over the region’s economic resources and port facilities (via World Tribune):
Farther north along the North Korean border, the port city of Rajin will soon start receiving electricity it badly needs from the Inter RAO UES Company of Russia. “We have no idea what is going on higher up there,” said a Korean-Chinese businessman from Yenben, “but it certainly looks like China and Russia are trying to win Pyongyang to their sides, like the old days.”