March 17th, 2013
01:50 AM ET

Addressing China's concerns over North Korea

By Fareed Zakaria

For decades, Beijing saw Pyongyang as a historical and natural ally. But now, a senior Obama administration official told me Wednesday, “We are clearly hearing increasingly levels of frustration and concern” from Beijing about North Korea. A few weeks ago, a senior Communist Party analyst, Deng Yuwen, argued in an op-ed in the Financial Times that ­China should “abandon” North Korea.

Now talk is easier than action. China has never imposed penalties or strictly enforced sanctions against its ally. Beijing’s reasoning is understandable. We tend to think about North Korea through the prism of two issues: nuclear weapons and human rights. But the Chinese have a more pressing concern — national collapse. If they were to push the North Korean government too hard, they feel, the regime could fall, leaving millions to seek refuge in China. Even more important, China would be bordered by a formal ally of the United States — one with about 28,000 U.S. troops on its soil as well as nuclear weapons. You don’t have to be paranoid to worry about that scenario.

Read more on this in the Washington Post.

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Topics: China • GPS Show • North Korea

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Zak

    IIf North Korea launches a nuclear missle, China will be buried in nuclear ash. Why? Because China is the sole reason why the North Korean regime is still in place.

    March 17, 2013 at 3:00 am | Reply
    • kim J

      ^crazy person.

      March 17, 2013 at 7:34 am | Reply
    • kumar

      why dont we deport Fareed plagiarist Zakaria to North Korea. Zakaria can copy paste speeches for Kim Jong Un.

      Let us bring our troops from South Korea and put them on crime infested Mexican border.

      March 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  2. ImperiumVita

    Simple issue to establish an executive agreement to remove USA military presence from South Korea upon China's cooperation, or merely inaction, in letting North Korea collapse.

    March 17, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
  3. sapakienats

    China will be very stupid to isolate north Korea as its ally.China should keep the bridge for the nations security because the united states creating military base all around China so Chinese should keep hold on the DPRK

    March 17, 2013 at 8:52 am | Reply
  4. rightospeak

    China is not very stupid if they are our banker. They will do what is best for them and we , with empty pockets, have little to say. Keeping our troops in South Korea looks like occupation to the rest of the world. Instead of building missile shields ( the Chinese and the Russians must be laughing) we need to get out ASAP before we lose any more money that we will need to borrow from Red China and pay them interest.
    There should be a discussion of unifying Korean people instead of warmongering.

    March 17, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Well put, rightospeak. Thank you.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:32 am | Reply
  5. ALLAMERICAN

    FZ, As much as I dont like, but I agree. It is time to intorduce new friends to NK like perhaps other countries in the regioin over there. So our options are not limited to china. It is also time for all our NUC allies to send strong message to NK.

    March 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    China's fears about North Korea's demise could as well be overstated. The influx of refugees into China after the regime's collapse might just be transient. As soon as the two Koreas reunified, many would stay, knowing the future couldn't be grimmer than the past they knew. Besides North Korea is not the former "East Germany". South Korea would have a daunting task to integrate the North. At least the first 10 years of a unified Korea would hardly be a military threat to China.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:49 am | Reply
  7. George

    USA should abandon South Korea. No more business with South Korea.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  8. Romka155

    US together with China should stop that evil regime and the stupid young boy leader.

    March 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  9. joe anon 1

    "senior admin official" passing gas.

    china's problem with north korea is in DC.

    March 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  10. johnny

    China surprised the world by launching a punishing lightning across-the border-attack against Vietnam in 1979. They that because their former military ally, Vietnam, crossed the limits of China's political tolerance. Inspite of the fact that only recently China was Vietnam's stongest ally in the wasteful Vietnam War. The war which we all saw ended in 1975 with Americans packing up and flying out with tails between the legs.

    If NK continue to use the threat of a nuclear bomb war (sic) to extort for free rice and wheat –

    I strongly believe China would not hesitate to retaliate by knocking some common humility senses into the heads of these rich and wealthy NK generals.

    China do not like war, or any escalation of a war threat – that is too close to their border. Because unlike American old philosophy, China always regard any war, anywhere, as bad for Chinese trade and investments.

    March 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  11. johnny

    China surprised the world by launching a punishing lightning across-the border-attack against Vietnam in 1979. Because their former military ally, Vietnam, crossed the limits of China's political tolerance. Amn that was Inspite of the fact that only recently China was Vietnam's stongest ally in the wasteful Vietnam War.

    The Vietnem war we all saw ended in 1975 with Americans packing up and flying out with tails between the legs.

    If NK continue to use the threat of a nuclear bomb war (sic) to extort for free rice and wheat –

    I strongly believe China would not hesitate to retaliate by knocking some common humility senses into the heads of these rich and wealthy NK generals.

    China do not like war, or any escalation of a war threat – that is too close to their border. Because unlike American old philosophy, China always regard any war, anywhere, as bad for Chinese trade and investments.

    March 21, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  12. bobincal

    Talk about unintended consequences! North Korea may have inadvertently provided a face saving solution to the president’s dilemma about putting anti- ICBM missiles in Europe. To do so would have infuriated the Russians. Now, in a bit of military jiu-jitsu, he can put them in the US thus mollifying the Russians and putting the DPRK and China at a disadvantage. I served in Army Intelligence in Korea in 1968-1969. The North Koreans are nuts!

    March 25, 2013 at 11:06 am | Reply
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    May 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Reply
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    June 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply

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