Why Won’t China Do Anything About North Korea?

As negative reports regarding U.S.-North Korea relations continue to pour in daily, many citizens around the world are wondering when it will all come to a head. The U.S. has been feuding with North Korea for a considerable amount of time now, and between North Korea’s threats of nuclear war and America’s strategic and consistent military posturing, it seems like some sort of conflict between the two nations — be it militaristic or political — is practically inevitable.

There is one country, however, that seems to be in the midst of it all, whether it wants to be or not. That country is China. As both North Korea’s sole ally and a sworn “frenemy” of the United States, the nation of 1 billion-plus recently had to choose sides between the communist regime in North Korea and the Trump-led U.S. While President Xi made it clear that the Chinese will indeed support the U.S., recent reports indicate that his administration has been relatively inactive in terms of reeling Kim Jong-un’s North Korean regime back in line. As tensions rise in Asia, many are asking one question in particular: What’s wrong with China?

Though President Xi has pledged Chinese support, China has been reluctant to deal with North Korea. [Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]

According to experts, China won’t do anything about North Korea for reasons much deeper than their economic alliance.

According to a report by the Washington Post, China’s inactivity in the North Korean crisis is both “ideological and historical.” As far as China is concerned, the North Koreans’ nuclear capacity is not a priority, but the relative success of the North Korean government is. While North Korea is an extremely volatile country, analysts indicate that it behooves China to make sure things continue to run smoothly for the North administratively. If the government were to collapse, there would, in theory, be thousands of refugees clamoring for residence in an already overpopulated Chinese mainland, which, according to Chinese officials, would be nearly impossible for the government to effectively handle. Additionally, the Chinese administration is concerned that a potential North Korean collapse could possibly inspire millions of Chinese and Korean residents to call for a united Chinese-Korean nation.

An influx of thousands of people would be chaotic for an already overpopulated China. [Image by Andy Wong/AP Images]

While the concept of a North Korea-China merger may not necessarily seem like such a terrible idea, experts indicate that the Chinese absolutely need a buffer state between them and the primarily U.S.-run South Koreans. If the Korean peninsula were to unite under South Korean rule, the result could spell political catastrophe for the Chinese.

Analysts also indicate that Chinese reluctance to come down hard on North Korea may also be rooted in the fact that they don’t particularly see a problem with a U.S. nation that, for once, is threatened. While North Korea is certainly no issue for America in a military sense, the country definitely causes problems when it comes to U.S. calculations of security measures. As a nation that isn’t particularly fond of America either, Chinese officials may find it ideal to watch America flounder.

While sources have made it clear that China in no way condones the actions of North Korea, experts predict that the nation may very well continue to drag its feet. With the trade sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime, China is practically the sole importer of North Korean goods and, in many cases, the country’s only supplier. Having that amount of power over another nation could possibly prove beneficial for the Chinese state in the long run.

If the U.S. wants China to actually commit to intervening in North Korea on its behalf, analysts suggest that the Trump administration offer some sort of incentive too good for the Chinese to pass up. Otherwise, the most populous country in the world may simply have too much to lose by following through with any meaningful support for America.

[Featured Image by Mark Schiefelbein/AP Images]