The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the danger on the Korean Peninsula.
The extremely uncomfortable question that remains unanswered about North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs is why does China object to reasonable defense measures by South Korea and the United States?
The Washington Post notes, “Given how angry Beijing gets about [the U.S. anti-missile system] THAAD, you may be forgiven for thinking that the U.S. missile system, deployed to South Korea, is primarily aimed at China. However, Washington and Seoul have justified the system by saying it is necessary to defend South Korea from North Korean aggression.”
China’s semi-official newspaper, the Global Times, proclaimed: “China has not been able to prevent THAAD from being set up in South Korea…Beijing should keep calm and adopt resolute and efficient measures to minimize its threat toward China. ..We should start from increasing sanctions toward Seoul…we can take the current opportunity to squeeze South Korean cultural products out of the Chinese market. This is the price the country must pay for the THAAD deployment. China should also focus on military countermeasures and strategically deal with more threats. The deployment of THAAD in South Korea has two consequences – it directly threatens military activities within China, moreover, it sets a precedent that Washington can arbitrarily implement its anti-missile arrangements around China. Both will jeopardize China’s security.Can we neutralize THAAD technically? Research in this field must be enforced. If possible, Beijing must realize it at all costs. One thing is for sure, China’s related strategic weapons must target South Korea’s Seongju County, where THAAD will be installed.”
The “threat” that China sees, therefore, is that it believes the THAAD system could have an application against its own growing nuclear arsenal—aimed at the U.S.
China’s complicated relations with North Korea is this: it is not bothered that the “hermit Kingdom” threatens its neighbors and the U.S. Beijing just doesn’t want the threat to prompt South Korea, Japan or the United States to strengthen regional defenses.
Russia, too, has objected to the THAAD deployment, notes Townhall: “Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the ThAAD deployment would escalate tensions in the region: ‘Such actions, no matter how they are explained, very negatively affect global strategic security, adherence to which is so often discussed by Washington. They may also result in escalation of tensions in the region, new difficulties for resolving acute problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the task of its denuclearization.’”
While China takes public steps apparently indicating that it wishes to discourages North Korean advances in strategic weapons, it clandestinely assists those same activities. Commerce Secretary Wilbur R. Ross recently announced that China’s Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd., known collectively as ZTE, has agreed to a record-high combined civil and criminal penalty of $1.19 billion, pending approval from the courts, after illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).
Some key observers believe there is more than a passing relationship between the technological military personnel of China and North Korea. 38 North explains:
“Some analysts are skeptical that Pyongyang could have achieved success at such an impressive rate without aid from a more technologically capable benefactor—namely, China. These analysts have noted similarities between the KN-11, North Korea’s indigenous SLBM, and the Chinese-made JL-1. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that China offered the North direct technical assistance in recent years. As Henry Kissinger once stated, Beijing is fully aware of the costs of complicity in helping advance Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. A nuclear North Korea risks the nuclearization of East Asia—most notably, Japan and South Korea. Such proliferation would shift the balance of military power in Asia, boding poorly for Chinese interests. China has, however, tolerated indirect assistance to North Korea that likely helped to accelerate its nuclear and missile program. The recent US indictment of Ma Xiaohong, the CEO of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company, demonstrates both the scale and nature of Chinese complicity. By one estimate, the Hongxiang Group’s trade with North Korea totaled in excess of $500 million over the last five years. The concern is that the company’s subsidiaries have exported dual-use commodities with nuclear and missile applications. Beijing’s early cooperation on this matter suggests that it may not have provided direct support to Pyongyang’s weapons program and that it is willing to enforce the US Treasury Department’s sanctions against North Korean companies, at least for the time being.”