In a vote of no confidence in the North Korean regime, China has purposely leaked its plans for the aftermath of Pyongyang’s collapse to the Japanese media. Though it has long been assumed that North Korea’s neighbors have such emergency arrangements at the ready, this is the first time China’s have been revealed. The Telegraph reports:
According to Kyodo News, the Chinese report says key North Korean leaders should be detained in special camps where they can be monitored, but also prevented from directing further military operations or taking part in actions that could be damaging to China’s national interest.The report suggests “foreign forces” could be involved in an incident that leads to the collapse of internal controls in North Korea, resulting to millions of refugees attempting to flee. The only route to safety the vast majority would have would be over the border into China.The Chinese authorities intend to question new arrivals, determine their identities and turn away any who are considered dangerous or undesirable.
The Telegraph suggests that China has leaked the plans as a warning to North Korea, ahead of a new round of nuclear testing to be conducted by Pyongyang. China also stopped supplying oil to North Korea during the first three months of this year.As Adam Garfinkle has written, if Pyongyang becomes too much of a nuisance to its patrons in Beijing, China may join the United States, Russia, and Japan “to plot a modulated, controlled euthanasia for the North Korean regime.” With the leaking of these plans, Beijing is reminding Pyongyang that it could help engineer North Korea’s collapse, or just mop up after internal pressures or a foreign strike take the regime down instead.For a roundup of potential scenarios for an endgame in North Korea, check out the American Interest‘s symposium, here, here, here, here, here, and here.