Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
The Australian newspaper The Age covers a brand new report from International Crisis Group. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group puts out a wide variety of excellent analytic products. They are stationed around the world conducting field research and offering policy proscriptions aimed at conflict resolution and new methods of strategic thought. This new study Shades of Red: China’s Debate Over North Korea finds the PRC unwilling to jeopardize its close relationship with the DPRK over the North Koreans’ nuclear and strategic weapons programs. According to the report’s executive summary:
Pyongyang’s latest round of provocations has prompted Beijing to reconsider its North Korea policy. A rocket launch, the withdrawal from the Six-Party Talks, and the 25 May nuclear test all deepened doubts in China about its policies towards its neighbour. This series of escalating gestures coincided with reports that Kim Jong-il was seriously ill, which set in train succession plans. Together, the nuclear tensions and succession worries drew out an unusually public, and critical, discussion in China about its ties with North Korea. The debate took place between those proposing a stronger line against North Korea (“strategists”) and others advocating the continuation of substantial political and economic cover for China’s traditional ally (“traditionalists”). Beijing ultimately supported a strongly worded UN Security Council presidential statement and a resolution mandating a substantial sanctions regime, albeit one focused on missile and defence programs that would not destabilise the economy. Although many in the West have pointed to this debate as a sign of a policy shift, Beijing’s strategic calculations remain unchanged. As one high-level Chinese diplomat said, “Our mindset has changed, but the length of our border has not”.
You can view the entire executive summary or download the whole report here.