North Korea’s hackneyed economy and a misfit leader are the reasons for its insecurities and sufferings.
Relations between China and North Korea remain susceptible to controversy. One may think in retrospect about the 1950’s, when China and North Korea joined hands to hail forces against the US. But nothing similar is precipitating now. There are three key players in the relationship: The US, North Korea and China. And, an imminent war is of course, the main concern.
China is perhaps still, North Korea’s most significant economic partner. Geostrategic interests of China and North Korea, and security concerns over borders may not be sufficient to explain the deteriorating relations between the two countries. Since their shared communist-socialist philosophies, the economies have come along, drudging path of covert animosity. While China has prepared itself to be a dominant global force by developing a competitive, resilient, market-driven economy, North Korea has remained in its backyard of damaging ideologies and political repression.
Multiple reasons have been cited about the waning relationship between these two nations. Mid-2012, when North Korea showed nonchalance in some negotiations, is when tensions really started. But some more digging would take us back to history when China was keen on neither harbouring North Korean refugees nor participating in war, alongside North Korea. What changed such intent, was firstly, foreign ministry of both the nations, back in the 1950’s. Secondly, existentially, there is every reason that China would void a nuclear attack on North Korea, since the damage would be collateral in China. And there are economic relations too, that need to be taken care of, first and foremost, since China has every reason to assure its own people that the economy would not be hurt.
However, recent nuclear tests by North Korea have been rather intimidating. China does not intend to be North Korea’s companion, in trade and otherwise, when there is a breach from the latter’s side on the mutual defence treaty. And China has Washington as its potential ally, in this decision. The reason seems simple enough to comprehend. Nuclear non-proliferation treaties are signed for a reason: to prevent mass destruction and annihilation of global natural resources.
Damages by North Korea’s ongoing nuclear engagements would be severe. Foremost to be hurt would be South Korea, and then Japan, although geographically more distant. China implementing UN sanctions against North Korea showed a deeper commitment from the former’s side, towards the mutual defence treaty as well as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It goes on to show that a delicate relationship, notwithstanding, the two countries hardly share similar ideologies, since their association with North Korean refugees in Tonghua. Now, with the US wanting to associate with China to obliterate North Korean nuclear efforts, it is clear that there is a chance of increased tensions between a particular group of countries (read US, Russia, South Korea, China). Some necessary deterrent actions may be necessary at the juncture. The Clinton administration put through some effective warning when North Korea was building a nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. Perhaps something similar should suffice from the economies involved. Consequent unification of South and North Korea into a neutral nation, is what is forecasted, out of such warnings and further negotiations with the US Security Council. This would benefit the US too, since the combined forces of North Korea and China could be nothing short of being detrimental.