“Why Does China Coddle North Korea?” Analysis

Everyone seems well aware of North Korea’s ever-increasing economic dependence on China, but the question remains as to why China doesn’t turn around that dependence and use it’s importance to North Korea in more influential ways. After all, it’s not unknown that China is losing patience with North Korea. As North Korea’s strongest, and one of few, allies, China is being kept in the dark about most of North Korea’s internal happenings – politically and socially. The recent execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was in many ways, China’s primary opening into the North, only succeeds in isolating China further from North Korea’s inner activities. The real question is to why China chooses to continue supporting North Korea and only half-heartedly taking action against the isolated communist country. Considering how deeply China is entwined to the U.S., economically, and China and South Korea’s increased trade and promotion of ties, one would think that the answer is more obvious. Beijing seems to be at a standstill as to what to do with North Korea and it’s young dictator. North Koreans who are too closely connected with China are now being suspected as well. Besides the execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, anyone connected to him is now in danger. Reports of more executions and purges of these governmental officials have been surfacing. Despite all this, China’s odd relationship with North Korea has been, and remains, an important aspect of the country. The two countries have sometimes been referred to as the parent and the uncontrollable, trouble-making child. There are suspects that believe that the memories of the Korean War are another reason for China’s confusing standpoint on how to handle the small Communist country. With China’s economy so tied up with the west, and North Korea’s ever increasing isolation from their only real provider, one wonders how much longer China will be willing to show any sort of backing for the country.


One thought on ““Why Does China Coddle North Korea?” Analysis

  1. James Eichner

    You ask why China does not take more explicit action against North Korea, but I think an equally valid question would be can it take action. The article you site describes the Chinese being just as blindsided and offended by recent events in North Korea, including the execution of Jang Song-thaek, as the rest of the world. Given that China’s main link to North Korea has been cut off (practically declaring North Korean aversion to Chinese policy through the execution), does China have any better chance than the west to diplomatically coerce Kim Jong un towards civility? It’s true that China can withdraw its economic support, but in doing so they may lose the last of their leverage in the country. If they want to persuade the North Koreans for the long term, who is to say that cutting aid now would be the best plan? I would agree that something needs to change, but I am uncertain and you don’t seem to mention exactly what should; do you believe withdrawing Chinese economic support would be the key factor in reigning North Korea in?

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