China's Influence Over N.Korea 'Limited'

      June 17, 2009 09:48

      China and North Korea are no longer in a close military alliance, and Beijing has only limited influence on the North in the nuclear issue, Chinese experts say.

      Yang Wenchang, president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs and a former minister, on Tuesday said, "Many people wonder why China does not exercise influence over North Korea. But history is only history. There has been a big change, and China's influence over North Korea is inevitably limited." He was speaking at a forum on Korea-China relations in Incheon.

      Yan Xuetong, director of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University, said, "Most South Koreans misunderstand that China attaches more importance to North Korea than to South Korea. But it's not true." Turning to the North's threat to conduct another nuclear test, he said, "Since North Korea is a country capable of making any kind of dangerous choice, we must maintain three principles -- the North and the U.S. should hold dialogue in the long term; inter-Korean relations should be improved; and the North should be included in multilateral talks."

      Yan dismissed analysis that North Korea's recent grandstanding is intended to ensure a smooth succession at home. "North Korea already conducted a nuclear test before the succession issue came up, and it's not likely to abandon its nuclear weapons when the issue is resolved. North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons no matter how dearly it has to pay for them because the purpose is neither money nor U.S. attention. North Korea is genuinely trying to secure nuclear status."

      Sun Jianhang, a professor of Institute for International Strategic Studies, the Chinese Communist Party's Central Party School, said it was unreasonable to expect China alone to find a solution to the nuclear issue. "The North feels its security is threatened by the U.S., so only the U.S. has the capability to find the solution," he said. He called on the Obama administration to change its attitude toward the North.

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