China has drawn up detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the North Korean government, suggesting that Beijing has little faith in the longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime.
Documents drawn up by planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army that were leaked to Japanese media include proposals for detaining key North Korean leaders and the creation of refugee camps on the Chinese side of the frontier in the event of an outbreak of civil unrest in the secretive state.
Uitgebreid commentaar hier:
Here’s what’s conspicuously absent from that plan: the documents do not indicate that China would intervene into North Korean territory to protect the border, to prevent a reunification of North and South Korea, or otherwise do anything to preserve the North Korean state. That’s a pretty marked shift from 50 years ago, when China invaded Korea to push back the South Korean, American, and United Nations forces that had come so close to winning the Korean war. This plan essentially says to North Korea: if your state implodes, is brought down by internal unrest, or loses a war, you are on your own. […]
That doesn’t mean that China is lessening its support for North Korea one iota, or coming anywhere near abandoning the Hermit Kingdom, to which it has offered crucial, survival-sustaining support for decades. It just means that, unlike in the 1950s, China will not go to war to keep North Korea alive. Given that North Korea is China’s only real ally, that’s pretty significant. […]
This is all actually pretty consistent with China’s larger strategy for North Korea. That strategy has been summed up in six little words: No war, no instability, no nukes.
Those six words are as much mantra as strategy, often rendered in the original Chinese: 不战, 不乱, 无核. The order is a big part of it, listing China’s priorities from highest to lowest.
Typically, this strategy has been useful in understanding why China tolerates North Korean nuclear weapons. Beijing would prefer that North Korea did not have nukes — they’re dangerous! — but it’s more important to Chinese leaders that the Korean peninsula remain stable, free of war, and without a pro-American unified Korean government. “No war, no instability, no nukes” — preventing war and instability is more important than preventing nukes.
Now, though, we can look at this strategy to understand the just-leaked Chinese plans for a North Korean collapse. It might seem surprising that Beijing would be so willing to tolerate North Korea’s implosion. But look again at the six-word strategy. “No war” comes first, before “no instability.” China has probably concluded it should not intervene in North Korea to save it because that would lead to war, possibly with the US — the documents make reference to “foreign forces,” which presumably means American troops that could move in if Pyongyang implodes or starts a second Korean War.