sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, December 21, 2017

China and North Korea

Over the Fence

On 21 December, another North Korean soldier successfully crossed the Demilitarized Zone and defected to South Korea. The location of the defection has not been given but it was not at the joint security area of Panmunjom.

The defector had been manning a North Korean guard post from which he escaped under cover of a thick fog. Both sides fired warning shots, but no one was injured. The North Koreans did not fire at the defector… they evidently could not detect him in the fog.

Chinese Face

Avoiding loss of face has become as important as other national interests in the Korean missile and nuclear crisis. This item is a commentary on remarks to the South China Morning Post by retired Chinese foreign ministry official Yang Xiyu,
Yang Xiyu is a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. Previously, he was in charge of Korean peninsula affairs at China’s foreign ministry from 2004-05 and also was involved in the six-party nuclear talks. He is one of China’s top experts in Korean and US affairs.  
Yang told the South China Morning Post that China would never accept North Korea as a nuclear power and that Pyongyang’s recent diplomatic slur had been humiliating for China.
The diplomatic slur is Kim Jong Un’s refusal to meet Chinese senior party official Song Tao, who traveled to Pyongyang as the Special Envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping. This was the most recent in a series of actions by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that caused China to lose face.
Yang continues, "The deterioration of bilateral ties is rooted in the widening divergence on the nuclear issue. It is because North Korea changed, not China. The problem is that the once shared goal of China and North Korea to denuclearize the Korean peninsula had been shattered because Kim Jong Un reneged on the commitments made by his father Kim Chong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung,."
The agreement to denuclearize the Peninsula was aimed at the US. The purpose was to induce the US to remove nuclear warheads that had been stored in South Korea for use in another Korean War. The Chinese argument was that the US cannot use nuclear weapons because North Korea had none. 

Kim Il-sung often bragged, as a result, that North Korea would never acquire nuclear weapons. Again, that boast was aimed at the US. The US withdrew its nuclear weapons from Korea by November 1991. Chinese patient pressure worked to make the Peninsula safer, as the Chinese see it. It took 33 years and worked because a second war did not occur.

Kim Jong Un’s betrayal of that agreement with impunity is another humiliation for China. North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons undermined a Chinese policy position that worked for more than 60 years. 
Yang continues, “Now, China and North Korea do not have a shared position on the nuclear issue, because North Korea’s current leaders have completely abandoned Kim Il-sung’s initiative,” he said

Yang said that while China needed to be prepared for different outcomes, its “dual suspension” approach – which calls for the US and South Korea to suspend their joint military drills in exchange for North Korea suspending its weapons program – was still the right way to go.

“If we step back from the goal of denuclearization now, it would be a failure of the will of our nation.” 

“If the international community allows North Korea to develop nuclear weapons it is a collective failure … More importantly, it is a huge threat to China’s national security. Therefore, on this issue, China has no room for compromise.”

“Developing nuclear weapons won’t guarantee North Korea’s security, and will only make things worse,” Yang said. He also judged that if Kim wanted to maintain his regime, he would eventually have to move money away from developing weapons and channel it into the economy.
A third loss of face to China is that its client, North Korea, has refused to accept the Chinese proposal for stabilizing the situation – the suspension-for-suspension proposal. Even worse, the former client – North Korea-- now poses a threat to China’s national security. 

Chinese leaders cannot compromise on denuclearization because it would signify a failure of will at a time when China is asserting its global leadership role. That would be the ultimate loss of face and prestige. 

The Chinese leaders would be disinclined to change their proposal in any case because of the successful precedent in which patience and steadiness achieved the removal of US nuclear weapons after 33 years. They know that patience will succeed again, given enough time and if war can be avoided.

Yang’s comment about the need to develop the North Korean economy contains the judgment that the Kim Jong Un regime must change its policies if it wants to survive. Chinese commentators seldom hint at regime survival in this fashion.

The idea of loss of face applies to the US-led alliance, but especially to North Korea. Kim’s dignity will not countenance a backdown. The vice marshals and the generals would likely find a Kim family member to replace him, should he try.

Finally, this is the third important comment on the complexity of the Korean nuclear and missile crisis that provides the public with background information on the issues.  Yang’s comments are part of the psychological preparation for a possible escalation of the Korean crisis.

The Political Spectrum

I've found that while many on this blog may label me a conservative, in White Wolf Mine country, I'm somewhat 'left of center'. 

h/t daily timewaster blog
I characterize myself as a moderate Constitutionalist, with emphasis on the Constitution and the rules established by that document and the Bill of Rights, which further defined the role of government and limited it. 

Being an outsider who used to have California license plates on his vehicles (all are Arizona plates now) puts me at 2.99 strikes against me from the get-go. 

However I do openly carry a handgun everywhere and that may reduce the strikes to 2.5. There was an accuracy challenge and I beat the two locals in a fair test of skills, which may have upped the strike count to 2.75. 

I know one of the local ringleaders who moved in the same circles I did in doing clandestine work for a living (now a has-been like me) and that may have dropped the strike count back to 2.5. I didn't know that he was up in the area until it was pointed out about a month ago by one of my old navy peers and I reconnected. He introduced me around and kept me from getting an unfair three strike mark.

Things I have said that strike a discordant note:
  • Locals want all national legislators restricted to one term which can never be repeated. I pointed out that just finding out where the restrooms are and how to order office supplies takes up the first six months in office of a two year term and suggested that Congressmen be limited to 10 years. Senators to (two terms or 12 years). "Are you a communist LL?" No, a realist, but hatred of government runs deep up on the Rim.
  • I have said that some taxation is necessary. That struck a sour note.
  • While 'vigilance committees' may have their place, my sense that persons suspected of committing crimes should be turned over to law enforcement and the court system for adjudication marked me as, 'a bit more liberal than is desirable'. I mentioned that there is no law enforcement presence in that area. (Closest is one hour away Code 3) The locals handle things themselves, referring matters to regulators when they decide that the situation merits it.

There aren't that many people around, but those who are are keeping an eye on me. Having a newly discovered, built-in old guy peer group, that is established as being on the horrible side of dangerous (way beyond despicable) may be my one redeeming chip in the game. That the peers also have multiple aircraft is another plus.

To be fair, the area has that sort of reputation. The Hashknife Cattle Outfit still exists. 

I went to high school with an Arizona State Highway Patrol officer who told me that they had a standing order to tread softly in "Moqui" country (the Mogollon Rim area).

Quoting from the link above:
The night after the shooting, Hashknife cowboys were drinking in the Wigwam Saloon and remembered that the robbers had paid for two shots of whiskey which they left behind in the robbery. Intent on rectifying the “injustice” 15 drunken Winslowites took the train to Canyon Diablo. They borrowed a shovel from trader Volz and he also gave them a Kodak box camera to take a photo of the dead outlaw in hopes that someone would identify him (and pay a reward).

Pulling him out of his casket, the cowboys leaned him against a grave barrier and poured a drink between his clenched teeth. After posing for pictures, the cowboys reburied the outlaw with the unfinished bottle of whiskey. Although the photos were widely distributed, no one ever came forward to identify the robber.
Winslow is about 60 miles northeast of the White Wolf Mine.