North Korea is succeeding at turning allies into neutrals

Posted on September 18, 2017

The situation on the Korean peninsula is definitely not getting any better. Raising tensions between the North and the South has derived into an increasing involvement of the U.S. in safeguarding the South, as was evidenced by the installation of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in one of the country’s north provinces.



On the other hand, verbal and written exchanges of words between the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, have also escalated tremendously, as Trump has made remarks such as his “fire and fury” statement, mentioning a potentially destructive military response from the country to respond to the ongoing threats issued by Kim Jong’s regime.



China, who has been an ally to North Korea for years, has seen with worried eyes how a potential conflict can unfold quickly within the region if things don’t cool-down soon enough. These fears have evolved into unprecedented actions from China towards Kim Jong’s regime, as their backing of the recent U.N. sanctions, which included the banning of certain product’s imports coming from the country, that constitute crucial sources of income for the regime.



These measures have also been China’s -perhaps late- reactions to a growing distance with Kim Jong’s administration, and his well-known ‘displays of strengths,’ including the execution of his uncle in 2013, his constant belligerent discourse against North America and its allies and a recent missile launch over Japan’s airspace.



It seems that Kim Jong Un is doing his best to isolate the country. Something that is hard to understand, as the economic recession takes its toll on the people of North Korea. Separating from China could have a negative strategic impact for the country, as the Chinese have been a protective force that has fought against dismantling or dissuading through force the country’s nuclear development efforts.



Nevertheless, an expert in North Korean political dynamics from the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing has said about the relationship between both countries that: “If China supports more radical economic sanctions that directly threaten the stability of the regime, then it is possible that North Korea becomes as hostile to China as to the United States.”



Certainly, that would make some people smile. Imaging a scenario of Kim Jong Un backlashing China ‘for its support to the Yankees and their desire to rule the world.’ Not an official statement per-se, but not too far from reality either.



The Russians, acting in line with the strategic distancing seen in Beijing, have also issued statements concerning North Korea’s nuclear threat. The Russian Foreign Minister said a few months ago regarding this issue: “We consider it to be absolutely impermissible to make public statements containing threats to deliver some ‘preventive nuclear strikes’ against opponents.”



It seems that North Korea is not just backlashing its ‘enemies,’ but it is also repelling its few allies back to a neutral position that might not be beneficial if a military solution begins to gain support in Washington.



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