Recently South Korea seized two Chinese oil tankers trying to slip into North Korean ports. These shipments are in violation of the sanctions against North Korea. This is an embarrassment to China. But the shipments may be a sign that China may be trying to put the brakes on North Korean’s nuclear and missile development.
Although it hasn’t been widely reported by the liberal main stream media, North Korea had a missile strike the town of Tokchon, north of the capital Pyongyang, after its first stage rocket failed in April 2017. This accidental strike against its own town was confirmed by satellite images clearly showing damage to the town after the rocket was fired. There is no information about casualties.
Add to this list the fact that North Korea is now willing to have talks with South Korea over the winter Olympics. It is extremely rare that North Korea would have any talks with South Korea.
What is going on?
Trump has taken a strong position with North Korea. He has steadily built up our arm forces in South Korea. The navy has strategically stationed ships off the coast of North Korea. China recognizes that if there is a war Korean refugees would flood Manchuria in northern China. This would be a problem for China. It already has too many Korean refugees.
Add to this the recent news that atomic tests in North Korea has created a massive radioactive radiation zone that extends across the border into China after an underground nuclear test. If North Korea persists, China faces mounting problems because of the shared border.
President Trump has been pressuring China to act in accord with the United States to stop the nuclear test and halt their missile development program. So a recently leaked Chinese document reported by strategypage demonstrates that China may be acting to stop North Korea’s provocative stance. The document alleges that China issued an ultimatum to North Korea to stop developing and testing nuclear weapons. In return, North Korea can keep their existing nuclear stockpile and China will secretly provide new missile technology besides helping them defy the economic sanctions Trump is pressing.
The consequence if their ultimatum is turned down is that China will stringently enforce the economic sanctions. In addition, actions will be taken by China against major North Korea officials and their families. What kind of action will be taken is not specified.
The speculation is that China may try to influence certain North Korean officials to carry out a coup to replace Kim Jong-Un. Although this is unlikely because North Koreans spy on each other, the mere speculation of a coup could make Kim Jong-Un more compliant with China’s wishes. If there is a successful coup, then North Korea remains Communist which is what China wants. China could then help to dismantle the missile and nuclear programs and spread its influence deeper into North Korea. They could then make North Korea into a client state. Massive amounts of aid would be sent into North Korea to help its starving population besides improving living standards as a reward.
Although the Chinese do not think war is imminent, the document makes it clear that Trump is not like previous presidents who made threats and then don’t act on them. The Chinese now think that his Presidency makes it a real possibility.
Trump has taken actions no previous president has taken. His words have been followed by action. He is rebuilding and expanding American arm forces. In addition, his placement of armed forces around North Korea is a demonstration that he will not give into Kim Jong-Un’s threats. He recognizes that North Korea is in a dangerous spot. Starvation is rampant throughout North Korea. Recent defection of soldiers have shown they are under weight and grossly ill. Their economy depends upon China’s help. If China enforces the sanctions, Kim Jong-Un’s regime may not last.
All indications are that China wants to continue to have North Korea as a buffer state. They want a Communist regime. It doesn’t matter if Kim Jong-Un is the leader or some other Communist. So Kim Jong-Un is expendable in China’s eyes.
Only time will tell if Trump’s hard line foreign policy is a success. So far it looks like he may get China to act against North Korea. It would be a tremendous success if there is a regime change in North Korea.