Pols396 week 4 readings part 1 China and North Korea A fragile relationship born of strategic convenience.docx
Pols396 week 4 readings part 1 (China and North Korea: A fragile relationship born of strategic
The common view is that China is North Korea’s ally since they share a similar political system
and considerable strategic interests in regional international relations.
o North Koreas strategic value to China is that it provides a buffer by keeping US military
presence away from the Chinese border.
o For North Korea Chinas value is that
1) it is the main bridge for it to reach other main players in that region. It serves
as an important communications hub linking the DPRK and its hostile neighbors.
2) The only country that maintains a good relationship with both Koreas. Thus
the two see china as a useful mediator in preventing some unexpected events
3) China is the only country that is still under obligation to offer military
assistance to North Korea.
4) Because of the current economic crisis in the North, China is thus an
indispensible provider of crucial aid to the famine ridden people in the country.
The paper is an attempt to demonstrate that beneath the surface of the alliance between them
the two countries share very few common interests.
The current troubles of the bi-lateral relationship have deep historical roots that can be traced
back to the beginning of the DPRK.
o The early DPRK elites were composed of two major sources
1) Korean revolutionary fighters based in china
2) and those based in the Soviet Union
o In the power struggle for supremacy in mid 1940 Kim Il-sung ( Belonged to those fighters
based in China) rallied behind the China-Based factions and achieved the ultimate
leadership. Then he purged his peers one after another, with the help of the USSR
trained cadets. This he destroyed both the pro-China group within the party leadership
and planted seeds of great dissatisfaction among Chinas first generation leaders.
Maos refusal to support the old Kim’s successions plan for Kim Junior also profoundly damaged
Sino-North Korea relations and its residual effect is still felt today.
o He emphasized that there had not been any family succession in the communist world.