Major world powers find themselves engaged in a game of give-and-take as it relates to the issue of the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea. The United States and China look to be seeking last-minute discussions on how to respond to the rogue regime. While China has shown resistance toward America’s heavy-handed approach to the matter, China cannot actually prevent the United States from going after North Korea with military force. China has, however, been attempting to impose conditions on any use of such force, either to minimize the impact on Chinese security or to make sure the outcome is one it desires.
If those desired conditions are met, China may give the United States its stamp of approval in regard to any military force the U.S. wishes to use North Korea.
At present time, China continues to stress dialogue and negotiation as the most effective way to handle the crisis, as Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated on Monday.
“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula remains highly complex and severe. We hope that various parties can strictly observe and implement the U.N. Security Council resolutions, refrain from provoking each other and aggravating the contradiction, and exercise restraint and caution to ease the tension.”
Should China change its stance on what is the best way to handle North Korea, it would do so if two specific conditions are met: to have North Korea remain as a buffer zone and to remove the source of trouble. In other words, while China would not abide by the U.S. invading and occupying North Korea, it would also not accept incomplete military action — such as limited air strikes — that leaves the Kim Jong-un regime and its nuclear weapons intact.
The conditions that Trump’s administration leave North Korea as a buffer zone for China while eliminating Kim Jong-un and the nuclear weapons that the rogue nation has in its possession are likely to be viewed as acceptable by the U.S. as well.
Should China’s proposed conditions be met, the United States military would no longer have a reason to station forces in South Korea, and at this stage, the U.S. is not seeking unification of the Korean Peninsula due to the severe economic burden it would place on South Korea and other countries.
An operation to carry out aggressive, large-scale air strikes over a short period of time, with the sole purpose of dismantling North Korean leadership and its ability to mount a counter-offensive, might also satisfy those conditions. The use of Special Forces to kill or capture Kim Jong-un and destroy nuclear facilities is also highly likely simply because aerial bombardment alone would not guarantee the desired outcome. Even so, such actions would make an invasion by ground troops unnecessary.
China has long desired to convince North Korea to embrace policies of reform and has wanted Kim Jong-un’s nation to strive for social stability but has seen its advice fall on deaf ears as North Korea has, instead, opted to brandish nuclear weapons and become a threat to China’s safety. So, if the United States was to only go forward with a limited air strike, Kim Jong-un and his nuclear arsenal would, in all likelihood, survive, and end up becoming hostile toward China once it is revealed that China had been the one that allowed the U.S. to use military force.
For this reason, if the U.S. does employ military force, China wants it to be quick and decisive, in the form of a large-scale bombing campaign. This will ultimately allow both powers to decide on the use of military force against North Korea and its handling thereafter.
[Featured Image by Mary Altaffer/AP Images]