Name and shame China over North Korea launch
December 13th, 2012
04:04 AM ET

Name and shame China over North Korea launch

By Stephen Yates, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Stephen J. Yates is former Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (2001-2005) and currently CEO of DC International Advisory. The views expressed are his own.

North Korea’s seemingly successful long-range missile test presents a significant challenge to the U.S. and its allies.

This is North Korea’s most successful provocation since demonstrating the ability to detonate a nuclear device in 2006. North Korea has now demonstrated a significant leap in its long-range missile capability, and it would be a mistake to assume further leaps forward are beyond its reach in the not too distant future. New and very young leader Kim Jong Un has succeeded where his father did not – a major propaganda victory for him.

While not the reason the Obama administration had in mind when announcing its supposed pivot to Asia, a nuclear capable rogue showing off a newly proven delivery capability has a way of seizing international attention not otherwise given to Northeast Asia in recent years.

The initial White House reaction was appropriate. North Korea’s actions are irresponsible, provocative, and a threat to regional security. But that is not all they are. Given the established record of proliferation ties between North Korea and bad actors in the broader Middle East, North Korea’s new capability is a threat to global security and a shocking rebuke to the efficacy of the several multilateral and bilateral measures that were supposed to prevent just this kind of breakout.

More from CNN: Is North Korea in control of its satellite?

The typical cycle of past North Korean provocations eventually resulted in sanctions being lifted and other inducements given in exchange for North Korean return to previous U.N. or bilateral commitments. Unlike the Clinton and Bush administrations, the Obama administration to date had not indulged North Korea in that cynical process, but it also has offered no new strategy of its own. Having condemned North Korea's actions as provocative and threatening, the White House must now define what (if any) consequences North Korea will face.

Beyond pro-forma condemnation at the United Nations and elsewhere, the U.S. should press for a multilateral cessation of trade and aid with North Korea and should openly discuss expansion of regional missile defense capabilities (like the Iron Dome system deployed in Gaza conflict). And given the significant propaganda boost this test provided within North Korea, it is all the more important that the U.S. and its allies more aggressively and effectively broadcast the truth into North Korea.

China should be named and shamed for its role in enabling North Korea to remain and grow as a threat. North Korea is one of the most sanctioned countries on the planet, but Beijing (with only brief exceptions) has effectively watered down and otherwise dulled the impact of international sanctions on North Korean “stability.”

Beijing no doubt would be horrified by the prospect of an international review of the many ways North Korea’s illicit activities involve Chinese institutions, territory, and personnel, but such a comprehensive audit would be entirely appropriate. And China should no longer be enabled to hide behind the entirely false threat of migration (North Korea’s entire population would represent a small share of the population of any given Chinese province, much less the Chinese nation, and under no scenario would every North Korean make his or her way across the border.)

Most important of all, under no circumstances should the administration allow this kind of provocation to resume the failed bilateral and multilateral negotiation patterns of previous administrations.

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Topics: Asia • China • North Korea • Nuclear

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Let's hope it falls out of the sky somewhere in China!

    December 13, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
  2. jackinbox

    This is police role costing too much. They are on each other's throats and that is just the way they treat each other in their culture.

    We know that we can still send in B2s and nobody will shed any tears. But money shouldn't spend on the Koreans. Neither NK nor SK like us being there. SK will have nukes someday. Let them nuke each other and serve as an example for how not to be. Other than that, it is none of our business.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:59 am | Reply
  3. Beavis

    Fat man should lose some weight before shooting off anymore missiles

    December 13, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
  4. Glenn

    This article is more an appeal for defense spending than anythink approaching demonstrable fact. The Chinese have a great interest in maintaining their borders with North Korea . Too suggest illegal infiltration by North Koreans would be a small percentage of current Chinese population is pathetic reasoning. The Chinese have no desire for an unstable state at their border. The real worry for us is China marching into NorthKorea to protect its "nationals." If we mind our own business, don't waste any more of our national treasure both economic and personnel , this will sort itself out and we will continue to buy lots of things from China that we no longer manufacture here. Stop making every move by a foreign government a reason to increase defense spending and these think tank guys will have to get jobs.

    December 13, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
  5. Name*inquisitor

    Im cuban-american and have more patriotism than you wichever is erasing my comments . And for you "china rule" keep it quiet your boring, you could win at running with a bag of rice in your back but not at war you guys will run like girls in the real thing like you did already during IIWW.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  6. Tim

    North Korea has every right to launch a satellite (no missile). I can't see anyone blames South Korea to extend its missile from 300 to 700 km. Can you?

    December 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  7. johnny

    China have very little influence on North Korea. If it had why would North Korea seek Iran's assitance in rocket technology and oil supply?

    Whatever have been happening in North Korean, like the rocket launches, are mostly to win the crucial support and admiration from a cowered but growing impatient North Korean citizens.

    Something's got to give sooner rather than not, and North Korea might join the world community when power is entirely in the hands of younger leaders.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
    • johnny

      It has been circulated that China simply cannot connect with North Korea's new young leader. So we should stop hoping for China to intervene in every North Korean irritations.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  8. johnny

    Americans have mostly been moulded mentally by Hollywood and politicians that China is evil and is a loser country.

    How unreal!

    I wish for once American cowboys would seriously stopped to think before opening their beaks against a country that have never stepped foot on foreign countries to start any meaningless and wasteful wars.

    Wars that America started overseas for more than 2 decades is one of the reasons the US Government is broke today. While the rich and wealthy defence contractors are smiling all the way to the banks. Wat has been good for business for them.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  9. Kailim


    Your bigotry and arrogance cannot convince the whole world. You should try hard to answer the following questions before you comment on China and North Korea.
    1)What is 'men are born equal'?
    2)Are North Koreans men?
    3)If yes, why can't they develope WMD? Remember, nobody on earth except American have used nuke.
    4)Is US the only nation allowed to have allies?
    5)Do you think Israel a moral ally to US?
    There are more questions to enlighten you shall you be able to answer these questions like a rational being.

    December 14, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
  10. Except for

    Tibet... and Vietnam ...

    Like the 'Floating Cansino' btw....

    China will say anything anyone wants to hear..... they dot care if they get caught at all..... they copy everything – businesses that do business there must hand over blueprints of what ever that company will produce there..and trhen they are assigned a mirror... there are no rules at all for China....

    Thank You so much Hillary (when she was on Walmart's board and Bill (who started dropping tariffs and regulations at the same time) – hope you made a boat load of money ..because you sold out your country.

    December 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  11. Stacy

    Why aren't my comments showing up?

    December 16, 2012 at 8:16 am | Reply
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    February 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
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