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Norks to South Korea: Okay, Now We're Ready to Talk

North Korea has reportedly accepted a revised offer from South Korea to come to the negotiating table. Last month similar plans were derailed over questions of protocol.

If we had to guess, we would say that this tiny step towards stability on the Korean peninsula represents a North Korean effort to appease China. Beijing is less and less patient with its obstreperous client, and small steps to reduce tensions with the South offer Beijing a little peace and quiet without endangering any important North Korean interests.

The big geopolitical shift on the peninsula in recent weeks is the apparent Chinese willingness to play a tougher game with Pyongyang. How far this will go remains to be seen. The Norks have three skills: They are good at crushing and terrorizing the population, they make nukes, and they are devious, focused, and very hard-nosed diplomatists.

China wants a quieter life in northeast Asia and would like to soften the impact of North Korean threats and shenanigans, which are promoting the rise of nationalism in Japan while making a good case for continued US involvement in the region. But there are still limits to how hard China will push an ally it needs. And the Norks don’t respond well to pressure.

Stay tuned.

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  • Corlyss

    “there are still limits to how hard China will push an ally it needs.”

    Speaks volumes. The Chinese have always held the whip hand with North Korea. Because of that, it’s always struck me as a bit disingenuous to pretend that these are two independent actors in a fraught relationship. North Korea is the monkey; China is the organgrinder.

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