Rising Chinese Frustration with North Korea

Rising Chinese Frustration with North Korea

SHENYANG, CHINA—Public space is shrinking in China for discussion of “Western” views. But “contrary to the general crackdown, North Korea policy seems to be an exception,” a U.S. diplomat told me on my recent trip to China. One hears plenty of criticism of Pyongyang. Even official Beijing’s unhappiness with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is evident, though China continues to bankroll the Kim Jong-un regime. It’s a position some Chinese would like to change, including a scholar in Shenyang, a couple hours away from the Yalu by car. My colleague was careful not to directly criticize Beijing policy but advocated a much different approach. He noted that the two nations “still care about each other,” but now there are a “lot of problems between the countries.” The most important issue, no surprise, is nuclear weapons. China supports denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. This is the “worst disagreement between them.” Second is economic development. “China insists on reform of the whole economic and political system,” explained my friend. Beijing’s objective is to “transform North Korea.” The DPRK government fears such change. Issue number three involves bilateral commerce. “China wants to have normal trade with North Korea,” but the DPRK expects to receive goods even if it does not pay. This has “caused great loss for China and for companies in China.” The fourth concern is refugees. “Many North Koreans have fled to this part of China,” he said, forcing Beijing to “think about how to deal with the issue.” So far, the People’s Republic of China has returned refugees when caught, sparking sharp international criticism. Coming in at fifth...
Meet China Half-Way to Maintain Peace

Meet China Half-Way to Maintain Peace

Great Britain long reigned as the globe’s greatest maritime power, determined to maintain a navy as strong as those of its next two competitors combined. However, by the end of the 19th century, America and Germany had ended London’s economic primacy. Britain chose to accommodate the United States and confront Germany. The result was an enduring alliance during the first and two world wars before the global order was settled after the second. Washington faces a similar choice in dealing with the People’s Republic of China. There are many differences in circumstances, of course, but again the globe’s dominant force, accustomed to premier status, faces a serious challenge from a new power mixing rapid economic growth, nationalistic exuberance, and powerful grievances. Increasingly the United States faces a choice between accommodation and confrontation. Into this imbroglio steps Lyle Goldstein, a professor at the National War College. In his new book, Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry(Georgetown University Press) he offers a strategy of cooperation for the two nations, which includes recognizing natural but much-reviled “spheres of influence.” Goldstein encourages both nations to reward reach other’s good behavior. Forging a successful relationship requires Americans to honestly confront the past, which continues to color Chinese attitudes. From there, Goldstein discusses several difficult issues between the two nations and proposes policies which would encourage “cooperation spirals.” Some matters, such as economics and environment, are politically contentious but not so freighted with emotion. Others reflect America’s and China’s roles in the world. Goldstein begins with Taiwan. In a series of reciprocating steps, he urges the PRC to reduce military threats...
Washington Arrests Foreign Soccer Officials as It Sanctions the World

Washington Arrests Foreign Soccer Officials as It Sanctions the World

It’s hard not to feel satisfaction at the indictment of soccer officials for apparently corrupting the globe’s Beautiful Game—soccer in America but football to most of the world. Yet emotional satisfaction is a bad basis for government policy. While the U.S. is not the only nation to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction, it does so more often and more broadly than anyone else. Moreover, punishing foreigners creates future risks. Someday Americans might get indicted by other nations for “crimes” committed in the U.S. How did Washington become the world’s policeman and prosecutor in the case of soccer? The sport remains a modest phenomenon in America. Most of the alleged crimes involve foreigners acting overseas. The impact in the U.S. is less than that on almost every other nation on earth, since virtually everywhere the sport commands greater loyalty from a larger percentage of the population. Nevertheless, some of the criminal acts took place in America and the corruption affected interstate (and foreign) commerce, the boilerplate justification used by Uncle Sam for regulating most everything. As American power has grown, so has Washington’s willingness to apply its laws to the rest of the world. Washington has routinely abducted foreigners overseas for drug offenses. Perhaps the most extreme example was the 1989 invasion of Panama, after which ousted dictator Manuel Noriega was transported to America and convicted of violating U.S. drug laws. Even more problematic has been the Justice Department crusade to turn foreign banks into arms of the IRS. The U.S. has gone after Swiss banks with the greatest enthusiasm, paying informants, filing criminal prosecutions, and imposing multi-billion dollar fines for accepting...
All Quiet on the Dardanelles: Gallipoli Reminds Us of Stupidity of War

All Quiet on the Dardanelles: Gallipoli Reminds Us of Stupidity of War

A century ago this week, one of the most important battles in the Great War began. Allied forces landed in what is typically called the Gallipoli or Dardanelles Campaign. The campaign went badly almost from the start, with heavy casualties on both sides. Ultimately London admitted defeat and withdrew its forces eight and a half months later. The fight offered another horrid highlight to the insane paroxysm of violence eventually known as World War I. More than 30 cemeteries fill the Gallipoli Peninsula. As many Turkish and allied troops died in this one extended battle–perhaps 120,000(though Turkish figures are incomplete and probably low)–as did Americans in the entire conflict. For reasons that seem sadly frivolous today, all of Europe’s major powers, including the Ottoman Empire—the tottering “Sick Man of Europe”—went to war in 1914. No conflict is pretty, but World War I was particularly dreadful. The Entente forces decided to attempt to force the Dardanelles, seize Istanbul, and open the Bosphorus Straits into the Black Sea. The battle commenced in February 1915. The British fleet first tried to push through the Straits but was halted by shore batteries and mines. The allies then commenced an amphibious operation. Although soldiers from Britain, France, and India (a British colony at the time) were involved, men from Australia and New Zealand, grouped in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, played a leading role. By January 9, 1916 the allied forces had been withdrawn. In a war noted for bloody futility, Gallipoli stood out as an example of purposeless killing. The battle was the Ottomans’ greatest victory in a losing war. Only a...
Engage North Korea as Pyongyang Advances Along the Nuclear Path

Engage North Korea as Pyongyang Advances Along the Nuclear Path

North Korea continues along the nuclear path. A new report warns that Pyongyang could amass a nuclear arsenal as large as 100 weapons by 2020. That would make the North a significant regional power. Washington has no realistic strategy to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some policymakers have advocated offensive military action, but that likely would trigger a war which would devastate South Korea. The Obama administration’s chief policy has been to reaffirm Washington’s defensive alliance with the South. Some 28,500 U.S. troops are on station, backed by conventional and nuclear forces elsewhere. However, this only encourages the North’s nuclear development. The DPRK sees nukes as protection against the allies’ overwhelming military strength, prestige for an otherwise geopolitical nullity, potent tool of extortion, and domestic reward for the military. Some analysts look to more economic sanctions to stop a North Korea bomb. But neither China nor Russia is likely to approve new UN penalties. Additional U.S. sanctions alone aren’t likely to cause the North to surrender a program deemed essential to the regime’s international standing and domestic stability. There also is the increasingly forlorn hope for negotiation. However, voluntary disarmament seems especially unlikely given the critical political role played by the military in Pyongyang. Some policymakers look to Chinese pressure on the North as a panacea. But the People’s Republic of China is not inclined to take steps which might violently collapse the North Korean state. The Obama administration should adopt a different approach. Instead of attempting to micro-manage the region, Washington should leave the Korean Peninsula’s future up to the two Koreas and their neighbors....