[LETTERS to the editor]Is China backstabbing North Korea?The “best buddies” of Northeast Asia have just shocked the world: China signed on to economic sanctions and freezing North Korea bank accounts. Most people would think China’s sudden change toward North Korea is due to the failure to influence Pyongyang to refrain from launching eight missiles. However, it must be thoroughly examined why China, a shrewd socialist country, “turned away” from North Korea.
It is doubtful whether we can consider China’s move as an act of abandoning North Korea for good. China has gained free access to coal mines and other natural resources all over North Korea. Since China is a profit-seeking, market-expanding capitalist country, an intact market like North Korea is attractive. With this in mind, it is safe to say China is taking advantage of North Korea’s predicament to change the unreformed communist state into a market-economy state.
Following this argument, we can imagine how China plans to do this. First of all, China is in a very good position in regard to North Korea. Unlike South Korea, which is easily threatened by the North when it abandons its agreements on tourism and separated-family reunions, Beijing can pressure Pyongyang by cutting off oil supplies, to North Korea is only source of fuel.
To marketize North Korea, the power of the military in Pyongyang must be subdued. Cutting the oil supply would be fatal, since it would immobilize North Korea’s military. Prior to such an extreme approach, freezing the North’s bank accounts would cut its channels for money to make weapons. Once North Korea’s military becomes broke, right wing groups in Pyongyang would be able to assert policies following China’s example of economic growth.
Overall, it can be concluded China is now engaged in weakening the hand of the military in North Korea and empowering the right wing to lead North Korea’s future as a capitalist country. Viewed in this perspective, it makes sense why a United States diplomat said the United States does not want regime change but a change in attitude for North Korea; they share the same goals as China.
What is now important is how South Korea should act to prevent the total economic colonization and domination of North Korea.
by Kim Tae-ho