It’s official: “China is extremely concerned by the way things are going [in North Korea],” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman today. “We oppose any behavior which may exacerbate the situation and any acts which are not beneficial towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
The Communist Party-run Global Times editorial today shows how Chinese nationalists are starting to worry about the “irrational” North Koreans:
Some Chinese scholars believe that China will face a diplomatic challenge if North Korea carries out a third nuclear test. They worry that Pyongyang will turn against China because of China’s participation in some international sanctions against it. In the worst case scenario, the rupture that occurred in relations between China and the Soviet Union will be repeated. Such concerns are driven by a lack of confidence in China’s national strength, and they exaggerate North Korea’s diplomatic irrationality.
The editorial also emphasizes China’s superiority:
Pyongyang is important to China, but not important enough to make China give up its diplomatic principles. China maintains that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is necessary and insists relevant parties solve problems through negotiations. China is willing to maintain the Sino-North Korean friendship, but Pyongyang should do the same. The two should have same concerns over the possibility the relationship might break down, which would be of no benefit to Pyongyang. North Korea would face an even worse situation, but China could find some ways to compensate for geopolitical losses.
North Korean provocations are really starting to irk Beijing, and with a third nuclear test looming Chinese officials are clearly starting to consider cutting aid and assistance to Pyongyang. The UN is also concerned, vowing “stronger” but unspecified actions if the North goes ahead with the test. Building up this concern, perhaps, is a (somewhat comical—okay, really comical) North Korean propaganda video posted to YouTube yesterday that depicts Manhattan in flames, to the tune of “We Are the World.” “I see black smoke billowing somewhere in America,” says the text that scrolls across the screen during the video. “It appears that the headquarters of evil, which has had a habit of using force and unilateralism and committing wars of aggression, is going up in flames it itself has ignited.”
In the broader Asian Game of Thrones, Nork needling helps drive up pressure in Japan for rearmament and hostility to China, the DPRK’s only remaining diplomatic ally. Defusing the Norks is a way for China to reduce hostile tension in the neighborhood without directly backing down to Japan. It’s a very smart approach—if only they can get the Norks on board. Easier said than done.
(h/t 4chan for image)