Why a ‘swish of the Mao suit’ is inevitableNorth Korea’s end of days is approaching rapidly. It will likely be by the hand of China not the U.S. or South Korea, a “swish of the Mao suit,” if you will. North Korea is committing a fatal blunder in giving the U.S. a legitimate reason to move up superior strategic and intelligence gathering resources within closer range of China.
Undoubtedly, the Beijing leadership is furious, but they have sat on their hands for decades happy with the easy strategic solution of the Kim clan in North Korea protecting their flank. Now, this has blown up in their faces as the West’s military might (the U.S.) is now standing on China’s doorstep and inching forward daily. This is a massive loss of face for China and someone will pay for it. The North Korea project is a shambles because the old leadership alliances have crumbled away.
Arguably, as growth quickened over the last 20 years, China took its eye off the ball on its Northeast Asia flank and lost the initiative. Now, courtesy of the Kim dynasty, it is being hemmed in strategically. South Korea’s resilience is clearly visible, and if military action damages its people and infrastructure it will bounce back.
But not so North Korea, which faces all-encompassing upheaval if war is joined. Also, Beijing will struggle when containing North Koreans fleeing in to China. Beijing dreads instability within and along its borders above all else. More than one house of cards could fall if China indulges its vassal state any further. A progressive regime aligned to Beijing’s state capitalism model must emerge in North Korea. The old orthodoxies have run their course in Northeast Asia, 21st-century China will act in its own best interest.
*Dr. Lawrence J. Bendle, Australian academic living and working in South Korea
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