China, North Korea and US foreign policy

Will China apply pressure on North Korea to make it behave? FT journalist James Kynge thinks this is unlikely, for it is not in the interest of China to have US troops on its border.

[W]hen Lt Gen McMaster insisted this week that Washington was “going to have to rely on Chinese leadership” to apply economic pressure on Pyongyang, he asked for something that Beijing has obdurately refused to furnish in any real sense. ….

The uncomfortable truth for the US is that Beijing remains inclined to tolerate its exasperating client state ….

For Beijing, the priority remains keeping North Korea viable enough to forestall the feared spectre of US troops pressed up against the Yalu river border between China and North Korea.

“There are 35,000 American GIs just over North Korea’s southern border,” says Paul French, author of North Korea: State of Paranoia. “I think what is lost in all the chatter about Kim’s weirdness and murderous tendencies is that North Korea is still primarily for China a buffer state.”

James Kynge, “A reckless North Korea remains China’s useful ally“, Financial Times, 19 April 2017 (gated paywall).

Mr Kynge lives in Beijing with his wife and three children. He is author of China Shakes the World (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006).


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