WHILE the rest of the world looks to Beijing to stop North Korea from exploding a nuclear bomb, a leading Chinese analyst says it is too late — China cannot act without doing worse harm to its own interests.
“Basically, our country’s work of persuasion with the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in the 12 years that the DPRK developed its nuclear program had been a failure,” writes highly regarded Shen Dingli, of Shanghai’s Fudan University.
“The DPRK considers its national interests to be greater than its relations with China,” Mr Shen says in his remarkably frank commentary, published in a newspaper of the official China Youth League and circulated yesterday by a North Korea-focused think tank, the Nautilus Institute.
Respected as probably the most independent-minded of China’s foreign relations experts, Mr Shen’s judgment that nothing can be done to stop Pyongyang becoming a fully fledged nuclear state deepened the grim mood in other capitals yesterday.
In my view, if China is unable to stop this test, we have to up the ante. We should not only let, but encourage Japan to re-arm and go nuclear as well. China can certainly cause the DPRK's collapse but is not willing to risk a war in the process. China controls the oil pipelines that go to the DPRK. Cutting those off would plunge the country into the cold and dark and would very quickly put them in dire straits. They would be even more backward than they are now. It would be very likely that in such a scenario, they would invade Seoul and quickly sue for peace. They would occupy Seoul indefinitely as a means of extracting concessions from China and the South.
This is not to say the South is a paper tiger or would roll over in such an event. Quite the contrary. They are very capable. Their entire country is designed to repel and invasion from the North. Their highways are designed to include AAA positions and tank traps. They are also organized in such a fashion that they can collapse the highway ramps to prevent armored vehicle convoys. Some of the major traffic arteries are designed to function as airstips that can also be destroyed in the event they need to retreat to the next concentric defensive ring.
The North, however, has considerable artiliary that is certainly in range of Seoul. They can wreak horrible damage (if, they have functional stocks) in very short amount of time. They also have done extensive testing with germ and gas weapons. Germs and gas in a dense city like Seoul would be catastropic.
China will likely shrug and let the test go on as scheduled. The DPRK will not survive forever. They simply cannot. That is not to say their demise is imminent. They've hung on this long and they're good at keeping things going. However, a military coup is not out of the question nor is a total collapse of the state if things continue to get worse. Only time will tell.