Will China Help Trump Denuclearise North Korea?
China sees itself appropriately balancing North Korea’s economic needs with the world’s security concerns.
With all the bilateral drama, it’s easy to forget that this nuclear showdown does not involve just the US and North Korea.
The China-Korea Connection
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson has assured the United States that China supports “the US and [North Korea] in actively seeking a political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue” and is “committed to achieving denuclearisation.”
Many believe China fears that a successful Trump negotiation could lead the US to replace China as North Korea’s top ally. Its government “does not want a reunified Korea, indebted to Washington, sitting just across its border,” Richard McGregor, senior fellow at Australia’s Lowy Institute, in May.
So where does China’s government really stand on the US-led denuclearisation of North Korea?
China Defends North Korea
To answer this question, we analysed one year of Chinese news coverage and commentary on North Korean denuclearisation.
Our project examining China’s view of the US-North Korea negotiations is part of into the domestic media coverage of global affairs in Russia and China, two countries that contest America’s dominance in the current world order.
We read China’s position on the Trump-Kim process as delicately balanced between defending its Korean ally while signalling its respect for the international community.
Chinese media makes sure to report North Korea’s side of the argument, tacitly supporting Kim Jong Un’s need for security while questioning American intentions in the Asian region.
For instance, Xinhua in October 2017 that “Kim justified the development of nuclear and missile programs by [North Korea] as the only way of defence against ‘protracted nuclear threats’ by the United States.”
When Chinese media aggressive North Korean military actions, such as intercontinental missile tests, the articles usually go on to portray the United States’ anti-ballistic missile systems and joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea as far more .
Towing the Line
Still, China is careful to uphold international standards when it comes to North Korea.
China sees itself as perhaps the only nation appropriately balancing North Korea’s economic needs with the world’s security concerns.
After North Korea’s nuclear tests in fall 2017, for example, the UN unanimously adopted that further isolated the regime. China criticised US rhetoric about Kim’s regime as overheated, but ultimately signed off on the sanctions.
In Chinese media, such actions – defending North Korean sovereignty while supporting the international community – confirm China’s role as a fair arbiter.
China Could Play a Supporting Role
Ultimately, our analysis finds that China’s global aspirations have not yet led President Xi to openly dispute American leadership in resolving world conflicts.
China is likely to play a supporting role in the gradual denuclearisation of North Korea, even as it seeks to shape that process to ensure that Chinese influence and prestige in the region is upheld.
But in the end, we believe Xi is more of a US partner than foe when it comes to Korea.
(Randy Kluver is the Dean of Oklahoma State University; Robert Hinck is an Assistant Professor at the Monmouth College and Skye Cooley is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the Oklahoma State University.)
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)
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