Uncomfortable Relationship: Will China Abandon North Korea?

The speculation over China’s fundamental policy shift on North Korea has been particularly feverish since last year’s Korean crisis owing to the fact that there are new leaders in Beijing and Pyongyang. Many reports suggest the two former Cold War allies did not get along particularly well. The world has lately been wondering whether China has finally lost patience with North Korea, as the rift between the duo has deepened since North Korea conducted its 3rd nuclear test, despite China’s repeated counsel against the move. Even President Obama said publicly that China was "recalculating" its stance on North Korea. However, a fundamental adjustment of the Chinese policy on North Korea is not happening currently. The prospect for such a shift in the future, Dr. Lee argues, is also very slim. This points out to the limits of cooperation between China and the U.S. in East Asia, and ultimately implies their irreconcilable differences of worldviews.

Dr. Sunny Seong‐hyon Lee is 2013-2014 Pantech Fellow at the Shorenstein Asia‐Pacific Research Center. He lived in China for 11 years mostly as a diplomatic correspondent covering North Korea and the international relations of East Asia. He served as an internal reviewer for the International Crisis Group (ICG)'s security reports on North Korea. At Stanford, he is working on a book manuscript on the China‐Korea relations. He has a master's degree from Harvard and a PhD from Tsinghua University. He is also Salzburg Global Fellow and the James A. Kelly Fellow of the Pacific Forum CSIS (non-resident).

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