With the situation on the Korean peninsula slowly deteriorating, observers hope that China would use its substantial influence in order to rein in its testy North Korean neighbor. Unfortunately, Peter Brookes, Heritage’s Chung Ju-Yung Fellow and an expert on national security, does not see this happening. When North Korea tested various weapons, sank South Korean warships, or attacked a South Korean island, Beijing did nothing.
Writing in the New York Post, Heritage’s expert delineates the three reasons for Beijing’s position:
1. Above all else, [North Korea] keeps the Korean Peninsula divided; China does not want a powerful Korean neighbor on its northern flank.
2. Beijing certainly doesn’t mind having the nettlesome North distract its rivals in Washington and Tokyo with its provocations — leaving them less time and resources to focus on China’s rise.
3. Finally, the collapse of North Korea, which might happen if Beijing stops forking over food and energy aid, could trigger a vast flow of refugees into China, or even incite a North Korean civil war that might include a tussle over nukes.