China, long viewed as North Korea's protector, increasingly doubts its own influence and would support the peninsula's reunification if the regime collapses, leaked US documents have said.China doubting its own influence? Why, just yesterday I was saying almost the same thing:
Over an expansive dinner last year, the Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan revealed that Beijing considers North Korea's nuclear program to be "very troublesome," according to a memo obtained by whistle-blower site WikiLeaks.
Ambassador Cheng Guoping "said China hopes for peaceful reunification in the long-term, but he expects the two countries to remain separate in the short-term," said the leaked cable by US Ambassador Richard Hoagland and reprinted by Britain's The Guardian newspaper.
In another cable reproduced by The New York Times, a Chinese official whose name was removed said that Beijing believed North Korea had "gone too far" after carrying out its second nuclear test and firing a missile.
The official told a US diplomat "that Chinese officials had expressed Chinese displeasure to North Korean counterparts and had pressed (North Korea) to return to the negotiation table," it said.
"Unfortunately," the Chinese official was quoted as saying, "those protests had had no effect."
While North Korea is a client state and buffer zone for China, without whom the Pyongyang regime would have collapsed long ago, it may very well be the case that North Korea has gone so far off the reservation that Beijing is in no position to rein in North Korea at all.The Guardian actually went a bit further with the reunification issue and China's apparent position:
And as loath as they are to being told what to do about North Korea, they are even more loath to admit they can't do anything.
The leaked North Korea dispatches detail how:If China really is willing to accept a reunified Korea (probably in exchange for a promise that the US will not place military bases in the former DPRK), then that would really change my view of China. I'd start speaking of benevolent Big Brother China with far less irony and sarcasm in my voice, for starters.
• South Korea's vice-foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
• China's vice-foreign minister told US officials that Pyongyang was behaving like a "spoiled child" to get Washington's attention in April 2009 by carrying out missile tests.
• A Chinese ambassador warned that North Korean nuclear activity was "a threat to the whole world's security".
• Chinese officials assessed that it could cope with an influx of 300,000 North Koreans in the event of serious instability, according to a representative of an international agency, but might need to use the military to seal the border.
Joshua at One Free Korea has a must-read post on the Wikileaks dump here, where he talks about it shows that China has been helping North Korea with weapons proliferation.
Though I share the concerns of folks like Joshua Stanton that the dump may be illegal and might actually get a few people killed (not to mention that it may hamstring future diplomatic efforts), I do see a plus side. Maybe this is something China needed to get off its chest, and I dare say it could be a catalyst for an end to Beijing's propping up of the Pyongyang regime. The North Koreans should see these private exchanges as a wake-up call, perhaps a sign that they've overreached.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser under Jimmy Carter, believes that the WikiLeaks cables were spoon-fed to them by anti-US spy agencies and that the PRC-DPRK revelations were actually meant to embarrass the United States.