China’s relationship with its unstable neighbour has once again been put under the spotlight after Tuesday’s nuclear tests that took place underground. As the Chinese diplomats were celebrating the New Lunar Year, its communist neighbours were testing nuclear weapons.
Many are now calling for the six-party talks, which were created in 2003 when Korea opted out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to be reconvened between the two historical allies. However, talks were last held in 2007 and North Korea announced that it would never reconvene.
So what can China do?
China still remains key in the UNSC vote with the power to veto sanctions, which it has threatened to do in the past, but China has recently demonstrated their diplomatic power on the world stage by working with the US to impose sanctions on North Korea. However these obviously haven’t had the desired effect.
Another option is to squash Korea’s economy. China accounts for 70% of Korea’s trade and if they were to impose economic sanctions this would have adverse effects on Korea, where as this would only be a drop in the ocean for China where Korea only make up 1% of China’s trade.
Similarly, China could cut off its aid to North Korea, of which it is a crucial supplier of food. However this would only affect the poor citizens of the communist regime rather than the elites.
The cutting off of Koreas oil supply by China, of which they supply half a million tonnes of oil a year, would also have a destructive effect on the country.
Many believe that China wont ‘cut off’ North Korea just yet due to the adverse effects a collapsed North Korean state would create – instability in the region, an influx of refugees into China and also China would no longer have its ‘buffer’ against US troops in the area. However, recent events are clearly beginning to test Chinese patience with its neighbour…
North Koreas ally China condemns nuclear test: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM-KjlDFrsA
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