Pyongyang playing a subtle survival game / News / News agency Inforos
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Pyongyang playing a subtle survival game

Chinese vector in Pyongyang’s foreign policy becoming essential

Pyongyang playing a subtle survival game
Context:

It looks as though the whole world seeks to successfully resolve the Korean Peninsula problems, but primarily the neighbors of North Korea – South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia. On the US side, the picture is mixed on that point.

For the current US president, the strive for handling the North Korean issue is to a certain degree the price of his glory as a brand-new up-to-date politician. That is how Donald Trump presents himself globally.

The fuss around the Korean Peninsula spearheaded by the new administration shatters the principles of the American political system that has been formed on the basis of the American supremacy idea for centuries. For Wall Street, arrogant and recalcitrant, the DPRK is a mere tiny dot on the world map, and its rebelliousness and, even more so, the possession of mass extermination weapons is yet another excuse for eventually wiping out that dot.

If North Korea under the stress of threats and sanctions suddenly agrees to take the place in the US’ orbit it is pointed at, then that will be a different matter. But the latest developments do not suggest that Pyongyang has such intentions.

In point of fact, Kim Jong-un’s New Year address to his nation attested to that. It surely said that the DPRK’s leadership is still committed to the idea of complete denuclearization and mending friendly ties not only with its potential opponents, but also with the whole world. It cannot be otherwise. At the end of the day, even immediate neighbors – China and Russia – keep demanding that – the full denuclearization.

But the address also noted that if the US “does not keep the promise it made, and out of miscalculation of Pyongyang’s patience, attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon North Korea and persists in imposing sanctions and pressure, the DPRK may be compelled to find a new way.”

A significant statement. What new way is Kim Jong-un talking about? Most likely, that means to fully rely on China and Russia. Beijing has leverage over the US, over South Korea. The People’s Republic of China in turn coordinates its actions with Russia.

Obviously, the DPRK’s leadership has finally understood the real state of affairs regarding its relations with the US, and realized that a close coordination of its actions with Beijing and Moscow is inevitable. 

“It is needed to actively promote multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatories to the armistice agreement so as to lay a lasting and substantial peace-keeping foundation,” Kim Jong-un stressed.

Does the mentioned statement of the North Korean leader mean that Pyongyang relies more on China than on Russia?

Apparently, yes. Particularly, the recent visit of Kim Jong-un to Beijing highlights that. In this regard, Kim Jong-un’s statement made in Beijing, noticed by the Chinese Xinhua news agency, is interesting: “The DPRK will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation, and make efforts for the second summit between DPRK and US leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community.”

That statement is a backbone that the Chinese government will be using in the future to build its further policy in the Korean area. The Chinese side is making it clear: the urge of the DPRK, South Korea and China for denuclearization of the peninsula is permanent, and now the matter obviously depends on the US. It is its political willpower that will largely determine the outcome of a complicated political game.

However, a clear willpower from the US side is hardly in evidence. The situation around Korea remains challenging. There is no real easing of tensions, despite certain progress in the dialogue process. As a result, Pyongyang is reasonably worried about drills in the south of the peninsula being conducted and planned, about the South Korean government’s efforts aimed at fortifying the strength of its armed forces.  

Kim Jong-un cherishes China’s contribution to fence-mending in the region and is grateful to Beijing for that. The North Korean leader has repeatedly stated that in Beijing. Whereas, Xi Jinping has emphasized that the actions of North Korea’s leadership have laid the groundwork for a peaceful dialogue, suggesting “a rare historic opportunity” for a political settlement of the issue.

It is obvious that amid a complicated military and political environment in the world and, particularly, around Korea, Pyongyang is playing a subtle survival game. In it, it decided to rely on the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese vector in Pyongyang’s foreign policy is becoming essential. There is every indication of a mutual strive of China and the DPRK for a closer cooperation.

Seoul also views the visit of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Beijing quite positively and believes that it will help speed up holding of the second US-North Korean summit. It declares active support of the denuclearization dialogue, as well as the intention to expand high-level exchanges between the Republic of Korea, the US, China and the DPRK. There has been almost no mention of the Russian side’s participation in those processes recently.

As far as Russia is concerned, it has never resorted to rapturous assessments regarding the progress of inter-Korean rapprochement and expansion of the US-North Korea dialogue. It merely never failed to voice support for them, demonstrating determination to give every assistance to those processes flowing amicably.

Moscow’s commitment to a peaceful solution of the Korean Peninsula issue is doubtless, and it is anything but indifferent as to how the pressing Korean problem will be resolved. So far, the situation dovetails with the joint Russian-China peaceful settlement line. It is that line, which envisions holding multilateral talks to establish a reliable system of peace and security in Northeast Asia, particularly on the Korean Peninsula.

On January 7, Russian Ambassador to DPRK Alexander Matzegora met with North Korea’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui in Pyongyang. It has been reported that the talks focused on “several burning issues related to searching for the best ways to resolve the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula.”

Choe Son Hui emphasized at the meeting that “the tactics and strategy of the DPRK’s foreign service on the denuclearization track would be from top to bottom based on the principles outlined by the country’s head Kim Jong-un in his New Year address.”

For his part, the ambassador gave an assurance to Vice Minister that Russia encourages the initiatives to ease tensions in Northeast Asia and a comprehensive solution of the Korean issues considering all sides’ concerns, as well as considering the interests of the DPRK itself.

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