Will China finally rethink North Korea policy?

Reuters

A paramilitary official patrols past a picture of the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un outside the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, December 12, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • And even though China is North Korea’s only real ally, Pyongyang is fiercely independent and loath to follow Chinese directives.

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  • Could it be that the announcement of delay followed quickly by the launch was intended as a deliberate slap in the face to China?

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  • Beijing’s strategic interest will likely remain in the maintenance of an independent North Korean state allied to China.

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On Monday, North Korea announced it was extending the window for its rocket launch due to a technical glitch. On Tuesday, South Korean intelligence officials announced there were indications that the rocket was being dismantled. On Wednesday, North Korea conducted the missile test, which it carried out successfully. What happened here?

It could be that this false delay was all about China. North Korea originally announced the missile test only a day after a high-level meeting in Pyongyang between Kim Jong Un and Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department. Beijing, in the midst of a leadership transition and already dealing with a period of tense relations with its neighbors and the United States, must have been furious.

Although publicly China adopted a mild approach to the coming missile test, behind the scenes it may well have been exerting significant pressure on Pyongyang to scrap the launch.

The full text of the article is available on the CNN Global Public Square website.

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