China’s North Korea Rhetoric: Once Again, We Are Eating it With a Spoon


NKPRC

The People’s Republic of China is once again disseminating its ever-predictable rhetoric to make it seem as if this time, for sure, they are “losing patience with North Korea”.    Just as predictably, current and former State Department officials in this Administration are gobbling it up hopefully and eagerly.     From the Telegraph:

There are clear signs that China is losing patience with North Korea, America’s former top diplomat in Asia has said.

“There is a subtle shift in Chinese foreign policy. Over the short to medium term, that has the potential to affect the calculus in north east Asia,” Mr Campbell said at a forum at John Hopkins university.

“You have seen it at the United Nations (Security Council). We have seen it in our private discussions and you see it in statements in Beijing,” he added.

No, you haven’t.  You have HEARD it.  What we have SEEN is a People’s Republic of China that backs the DPRK unequivocally.  If they did not, the DPRK and Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather before him, would stand down from their provocations post-haste.  But, we continue to hear how “this time China is warning North Korea”.    We heard it with the starting of the nuclear program.  And again with the nuclear tests.  Each one of them.  We heard such with the testing of theater ballistic missiles.  And with the sinking of a ROK Navy frigate.  And the unprovoked artillery attack against ROK soldiers and civilians.

But there was no real warning.  And often, quite the opposite.  The warning has been issued instead to the South and to the United States about “restraint” and the need for “stability”.    Yet, the naively hopeful straw-grasping continues.

Earlier, Mr Campbell told the Wall Street Journal that China “cannot be happy” and that he expected a tougher line to emerge from Beijing.

Au contraire.  The PRC is ecstatic watching US attempts to garner both deterrent force and potential combat power from a shrinking pool of assets as the self-inflicted slashing of America’s military narrows options and limits US presence in the region.   But State is not the only entity hopelessly out of touch with China, her relationship with the DPRK, and her intentions to displace the US and dominate the region.

However, 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,” said Mr Pinkston.

It would seem Mr. Pinkston doesn’t quite understand whose headache the situation has become.  But China does.  As does Iran. And every other of America’s adversaries.  And our allies, too.

The notion that China disapproves of the actions of the DPRK to the point of “changing the calculus” in the region, or simply tolerates the North because it is “the devil you know” is absurdly naive.  Reflective, unfortunately, of an arrogant, clumsy, and amateurish US State Department, whose lack of acumen and and diplomatic skill is paraded yet again across the world stage.  The PRC is keenly aware of the value of an unpredictable and well-armed North Korea as a constant thorn in the side of the US, especially as the PLAN grows and the USN shrinks.

If we want to know what China’s role is, do not watch what they say, especially not what is intended for our consumption.  Watch what they do.  And don’t do.

Acta non verba.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “China’s North Korea Rhetoric: Once Again, We Are Eating it With a Spoon

  1. Paul L. Quandt

    One of these days we are going to have to slap the PRC, hard.

    Paul

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    • LT Rusty

      When that day comes – and I agree with you that it will – let’s just hope that we still retain the capability to do so.

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    • Jeff Gauch

      Considering they’re capable of slapping us just as hard, I think you’re wrong. I think it’s more likely we’ll see a Son of Cold War scenario where we each try to maneuver for advantage until their internal contradictions bring them down.

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    • Unless, of course, OUR internal contradictions doom us first.

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    • Jeff Gauch

      Ours aren’t as bad. I think worst case will wind up with some widescale rioting in urban centers. The vast majority of the country’s land area will be unaffected.

      China has a very narrow economy, a population accustomed to double digit growth, and a couple of demographic bombs running out of fuse.

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    • The pathologies caused by our internal contradictions are far more advanced than theirs. We are much more likely to fail in the next 1-3 years than they are because of the stupidity in DC.

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    • Jeff Gauch

      QM, I don’t know why you would say our pathologies are more advanced than theirs. We’re both approaching the same point, fascism, from different ends. We have the advantage of approaching it from the free-market side while the Chinese are coming at it from the socialist side. We also have a much more robust culture/politics link, and our demographics bomb is peanuts compared to what their facing in their aging populace. Never mind the 2 million men who will never get married.

      1-3 years is far too pessimistic. SSDI won’t run out of money for another two years, and the system will probably keep limping along for another term at least after that. We’re still the strongest economy, which means others want our bonds, so the Fed doesn’t have to pump nearly as much currency into the system as China does. Plus China, being an export economy, HAS to match (at least) any currency devaluation we do.

      There’s no getting around it. The ladder is sinking into the CHT tank, but China’s a few dozen rungs below us.

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    • The Red Chinks are already Fascist. They are way ahead of us on that score. The social pathologies, however, are a kettle of a different color. That’s where we are way ahead of them, time wise. They don’t have near the family destruction or government dependency we do, and I can see it killing us in the next 1-3 years. I don’t expect the US to survive the experience either.

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  2. Esli

    Can anybody point to any reason why it would actually be in China’s national interest to rein in DPRK? Basic theory of international relations says that when a regional hegemon arises, generally other countries have two options: balance against it, or bandwagon with it. We see that right now across the PACOM AOR. Clearly, DPRK is bandwagoning with PRC and will continue to do so, with the tacit approval of the PRC government. The rhetoric is meaningless. That our Department of State does not understand this is frightening.

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    • Jeff Gauch

      North Korea isn’t bandwagoning with China. They’re a protectorate. Have been since ’51.

      Part of the problem of diplomacy is that you can’t say -at least not publicly – that your opponent is lying even if you know it. Thus, there is little external difference between an incompetent State department and a competent one. But recent history doesn’t give me much hope.

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    • Esli

      Protectorate is just another word for bandwagon. The country made a choice to remain aligned with, vice balancing against, China. Those are the two strategic options for most countries, and more importantly, that is increasingly the choice facing other countries in the region as our ability to influence it continues to dwindle.

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    • Jeff Gauch

      There wasn’t much choice once the UN took apart the North Korean military. And there hasn’t been much choice since then. It would be like saying the US is ascendant because Canada is bandwagoning with us.

      I don’t see how our ability to influence the region has dwindled. The past month has shown we still have the ability to place troops and weapons on the Korean peninsula at will, and could do the same nearly anywhere in the region. I don’t see a long line of nations clamoring to make deals with China.

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  3. ultimaratioregis

    ” The past month has shown we still have the ability to place troops and weapons on the Korean peninsula at will, and could do the same nearly anywhere in the region. ”

    Some can look at this last month and observe just how thin we have made our margin of error in doing so. So that “at will” becomes somewhat tenuous, to say the least.

    Our influence diminishes when our will and means diminish. Actually, when our will and means are perceived as having begun to diminish. Methinks a number of folks in our foreign policy cabal are getting some object lessons about just how handy a fairly large and capable military is at times such as these. Note we are scrambling to restore capabilities that were de-funded three and four years ago.

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    • scottthebadger

      We don’t have that many troops that we can deploy, either. Perhaps a Corps, if we work real hard, while the PRC can send Armies to the south, with land lines of supply that have been established for over a half of a century. There was a time when we have hundreds of APAs, AKA, LSTs, and LSDs, but those times are long gone. The government found better uses for the money in establishing the welfare state.
      Of course, our betters in government, products of the Ivy League, are so much more intellegent than we, that they can substitute a Hillary Clinton, or a John Kerry for a thoughtful forgien policy, backed up with a creditable force structure. All we need do is Believe. Everyone really does think just like they do, it’s just us Bitter Clingers that cannot see the Light radiating from DC. I sometime fear that we are doomed.

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    • scottthebadger

      URR, you and your fellow Marines may not have the Administration at your Six, but you do have a Badger there.

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  4. I think it’s more likely we’ll see a Son of Cold War scenario where we each try to maneuver for advantage until their internal contradictions bring them down.

    Seven years ago I started writing about the dangers of China’s ascendancy. Many, many people made exactly that point: that demographics and economic weaknesses would bring them down, so I needn’t worry. In the time since, the only thing that’s changed is that they’ve gotten bigger, stronger, and more influential while we have moved in the opposite direction. I hope they are eventually stopped by demographics and economic weakness, but I’m not willing to count on it. I’d like a more proactive strategy.

    I don’t see a long line of nations clamoring to make deals with China.

    Check out the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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    • Jeff Gauch

      Seven years isn’t enough time for demographic effects to be felt. China has a population that is aging much faster than ours, with a much less robust base economy to support them, a real estate bubble that makes ours look like a bit of spume, and a huge gender imbalance that is going to make life in the area interesting over the next 20 years. China isn’t bigger, stronger, or more influential now than they were 7 years ago, and we’re no weaker. A proactive strategy runs the risk of nuclear war. Not something I’m willing to risk when I know we’ll win in the end anyway. We’re never going to be in an adversarial relationship with China because they need us to keep buying their cheap crap just as much as we need them to keep buying our debt. We have each other by the short and curlies. It makes for a stable, if uncomfortable, relationship.

      As for the SCO. I didn’t realize we’d lost Uzbekistan. Whatsoever will we do without the powerhouse of central Asia? Seriously, the SCO is nothing more than China playing dress-up and imitating the G-8.

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  5. China isn’t bigger, stronger, or more influential now than they were 7 years ago, and we’re no weaker.

    Economy? Bigger. Share of high tech manufacturing? Bigger. Military? Stronger. Influence in Asia, Africa, and South America? Broader and stronger. Meanwhile our influence has waned, our economy has barely grown, our share of high tech manufacturing has dropped, and our military is getting sequestered. I guess I disagree completely.

    Seriously, the SCO is nothing more than China playing dress-up and imitating the G-8.

    Not at all true. SCO, with Russia, China, and essentially India, is making APEC a relic.

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  6. obsidian53

    Publically ignoring the NorK threats while privately watching and preparing is the way to go.
    let the l’il bass turd scream and rant for China all he wants just ignore him.

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