Thursday, July 2, 2009

Is China shifting policy on North Korea?

I've made no secret that I think China is responsible for the continued existence of the type of regime we see in North Korea, so it is encouraging — if true — to see that China may finally be realizing that it is coddling a dangerous monster

From the Stars & Stripes:
But criticism in China’s government-authorized media of North Korea has grown to levels that were never tolerated until now, said Jonathan Pollack, professor of Asian-Pacific studies at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Pollack has written more than 25 books and research reports, including books on U.S.-Chinese relations and on North Korea. His current research centers on North Korean nuclearization.

"What I am seeing is an openness to explore issues. There is much more sanction in authorized media to talk about North Korea in a frank way," Pollack said. "This can be used as a basis for what we have to assume is an internal reassessment, in light of all that is happening now."

In 2003, a Chinese journal published a paper hostile to the Kim regime and was quickly shut down, Pollack said.

Now, a series of articles in World Knowledge, a Chinese Foreign Ministry-backed journal, openly explores what China gets in return for its diplomatic and economic support of Pyongyang.

Other media outlets are discussing the succession of Kim Jong-il, who is rumored to be ill.

"It’s unimaginable that the issue of succession would have been raised in authorized Chinese publications in the past," Pollack said.

"It really suggests to me that they are looking at North Korea differently. It’s definitely a change from the past, in my view."
While it would be encouraging for China to realize that Kim Jong-il's regime as it stands now is hostile and creates instability in the region, it would be nice if Beijing would also come around on the issue of human rights abuses of North Korean citizens, both within the DPRK and in the PRC. But I'm not holding my breath.

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