When North Korea’s dramatic missile launch last week ended ignominiously after just 90 seconds, much of the world—including Via Meadia—couldn’t help indulging in a sly chuckle. But there may be a more serious upside to the North’s humiliation. As the Financial Times reports, Pyongyang’s renewed commitment to missile development could provide the Obama administration with an unexpected benefit: support for a missile defense shield for Asia.The Kim dynasty has created many headaches for Beijing, and the FT thinks the missile launch is yet another:
North Korean behaviour has worked against China in all sorts of ways but one that is gathering steam is the idea of missile defence. Two weeks before the North Korean launch, Madelyn Creedon, a senior Pentagon official, said the US wanted to develop the sort of regional defence shield in Asia that has proved so controversial in Europe. The other countries, she said, could be Japan, South Korea and Australia—the strongest US allies in the region and each of which now has China as their biggest trading partner.The idea is not a new one but North Korea’s experiments in ballistic missile technology have given it momentum.
Even still, for all the worry from the U.S. and its Asian allies over the erratic bellicosity of the Kim family, China’s military build-up is the greater concern. The missile launch merely provides Washington with the pretext to test the waters on a defense shield. Whether the shield eventually takes shape or not, the result of North Korea’s reckless behavior may be to bind America’s allies closer together.For China, with friends like North Korea, who needs enemies?