Chinese views of the nuclear endgame in North Korea
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This article examines Chinese views of North Korea’s nuclear weapon program during the Donald J. Trump administration. It shows that China has portrayed itself as a responsible country that promotes regional stability, unlike the United States, which has engaged in military brinkmanship with North Korea. Some Chinese foreign-policy experts have asserted that Beijing should back Pyongyang in the event of war because of their shared history of humiliation by great powers, while others have favored working with other regional partners. Another theme in Chinese discourse about North Korea is that Pyongyang is an impetuous, ungrateful regime that impedes Beijing’s ability to attain its core interests of regional stability, economic development, and heightened global influence. This negative assessment of North Korea drove Beijing’s endorsement of stricter UN sanctions in 2017. While Beijing has punished Pyongyang for its wayward policies, China responded favorably to North Korea’s decision in April 2018 to stop nuclear tests and partake in international dialogue. Beijing seeks to help Pyongyang gradually disarm and develop its economy within a Chinese-led East Asian order. The article concludes by explaining how Beijing’s recent, more positive view of Pyongyang is likely to affect its support for American efforts to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear-weapon program.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10736700.2019.1667050
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