In order to put the North Korean nuclear genie back in its bottle, should China protect Pyongyang under its nuclear umbrella while forcing the regime to give up its nuclear program? For China’s state-run Global Times, columnist Zhu Zhangping offers some suggestions that may give Beijing a way out of its unquestioned backing of North Korea, and asserts that whatever benefit Beijing derives from keeping the Kim Jong-un regime in office, the danger of allowing him The Bomb is too great.

For the Global Times, Zhu Zhangping writes in part:

A top priority for China is to ensure the survival of the Kim regime and keep North Korea from collapsing. But should China continue to back North Korea no matter what it does? And even if North Korea’s nuclear development is targeted only at the United States, its nuclear programs bring huge risks to China – not the United States.

The third nuclear test in February was conducted just over 100 kilometers from China’s northeast border. Although Chinese authorities appeased the public by swearing that the mountains on the border would effectively prevent radiation spreading to China, the possibility that nuclear leakage could pollute underground water supplies cannot be ruled out.

Groundwater safety is not only a concern when it comes to Northeast China’s drinking water supply, but for food safety and even food security.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is the latest lesson. Fukushima Prefecture, where agriculture was a key industry, is highly contaminated and food production has been severely impacted. China cannot afford to risk a repetition of the Fukushima disaster in the Northeast.

What China should do now is offer North Korea protection under its nuclear umbrella, just as the U.S. does for Japan and South Korea, while forcing it to accept China’s advice and abandon its nuclear program. China faces bigger risks than any other country in the event of a fourth nuclear test.

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WILLIAM KERN (Worldmeets.US)
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I can easily imagine China’s military officials are discussing this issue, and not just for the nuclear ramifications.

North Korea’s actions are forcing the U.S. to send more armaments to the Pacific. I doubt China wants that type of presence in their part of the world. They were undoubtedly looking at our economy, our huge deficits, and our weariness of war, and saw an opening to become the dominant military power in the region.

But then comes North Korea and their sabre-rattling, and the wholly justified build-up of American military power in that region. It’s definitely interfering in China’s plans.

Look at it this way: if you grow pot plants in your basement, do you really want your neighbor to attract the attention of cops by threatening passers-by with a rifle?


I’ve wondered if the Chinese top brass hasn’t even considered just taking out North Korea’s government (either militarily or economically) and letting the South and North reunite with the South Korean government and other countries pledging some support to rebuild the North (a la the reunification of the two Germanys). In exchange for this, China would extract some regional military concessions from the US. It’d certainly solve a strategic headache and political distraction for China and maybe even neutralize any further US presence in that region. It’s not like China doesn’t have other communist allies in the area and by doing this blunt some western public criticism of them by suggesting this is a humanitarian cause for the citizens of the DRK.

As China embraces more and more capitalistic style economic reforms and substantially increases trade with the ROK, they can’t afford to let the DRK create economic instability in the region, especially with China’s economy showing signs of contraction. If the DRK doesn’t want to modernize and let go of it’s isolationism and sabre-rattling, China can hardly afford to just let the North sabotage the Chinese economy. Of course, this is if the US (and even the ROK and Japan) would be agreeable to any of this, which is a big IF.