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Running head: NORTH KOREA AND SINO-AMERICAN BILATERAL RELATIONS
North Korean Nuclear Issue and the Implications for Sino-American Bilateral Relations Steve S. Sin Troy University November 27, 2009
Word Count: 5,059 (Abstracts, Charts/Figures/Equations, Footnotes, and References excluded)
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 2 Abstract North Korea’s nuclear crisis and its threat to the regional and international security is one of the major international relations issues today. To analyze possible implications North Korean nuclear issue may have on the Sino-American bilateral relations, utility functions for each country were constructed and payoffs calculated for each possible strategy. The strategy and payoff matrixes for both countries clearly showed the best strategy for them is to cooperate with each other to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue; however, it was also clear that as these two powers have despairing priorities, and as they pursue their individual national interests, there may be some political, economic, and military factors that could cause one or both countries choose not to cooperate. This paper proposes adoption of a set of bold policies by the United States, such as providing a negative security guarantee to China, offering to reduce the number of American troops stationed in Korea upon unification of the Korean Peninsula, or creating an environment where a unified Korean Peninsula would ensure China a much higher economic benefit than a divided one, could pay dividends in both ensuring the Chinese cooperation and transforming the Sino-American relations – not only surrounding the North Korean issue but also for the overall strategic relationship.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 3 North Korean Nuclear Issue and the Implications for Sino-American Bilateral Relations North Korea’s nuclear crisis and its threat to the regional and international security is one of the major international relations issues today. The first North Korean nuclear crisis came in 1993 when North Korea announced its intention to leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the United States prepared to attack the North’s nuclear facilities. The crisis was contained in 1994 when the United States and North Korea signed the Agreed Framework where North Korea agreed to “freeze” its nuclear program in return for foreign energy aid in the form of heavy fuel oil and two light-water nuclear reactors . The second nuclear crisis began in April 2003 when North Korea withdrew from the NPT and soon after restarted its reactors. In response to North Korea’s withdrawal, and to resolve the nuclear crisis, the Six-Party Talks (involving China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States) were launched in August 2003. After six rounds of talks from 2003 to 2007, the Six-Party Talks has produced little progress of substance [2-4]. On April 14, 2009, North Korea declared it would pull out of the Six-Party Talks and declared the talks dead . Recently, North Korea, in a surprising move, has shown signs of willingness to return to the denuclearization talks . The future of the North Korean nuclear issue, along with it the Northeast Asian security situation, is unclear at best. The International community has looked to the United States and China to lead the effort in resolving the situation, and China has offered its political and diplomatic influence to mediate six rounds of the Six-Party Talks as the chair-nation of the talks. The cooperation China and the United States has shown to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue is often held up as an
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 4 example of the success of constructive Sino-American engagement policy, despite sometimes cacophonous relationship between the two countries . This paper argues North Korea, nevertheless, still has the potential to generate conflict between Washington and Beijing. First, the United States’ and China’s respective perceptions, positions, and interests on North Korea, as well as North Korea’s positions and interests are discussed. Second, three nation-states’ divergence in priorities, desired outcomes, strategies, and payoffs are examined. Finally, the implications North Korea may have on Sino-American relations in light of different national priorities are discussed and possible options for transforming the relationship are proposed.
The Perspectives, Positions, and Interests The United States’ View of North Korea Since the September 11 attacks, the United States has focused on preventing terrorist organizations and rogue regimes from acquiring nuclear weapons or fissile material instead of preserving the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. Kim Jong-il’s North Korea has been viewed by the United States, regardless of administration, as a rogue regime who will “sell anything to anybody.”  These two factors are at the core of the United States’ view that North Korea’s possession of nuclear capability is a threat to regional and international security, and must be dealt with using stern measures. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been engaged militarily on multiple fronts, most visibly in Iraq and Afghanistan, all under the name of Global War on Terror. Kim Jong-il, an astute student of international events, unsurprisingly has
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 5 expressed concerns about the United States conducting a pre-emptive strike against the North . Reorganization of the Second United States Infantry Division in South Korea was viewed by North Korea as a move to prepare for a pre-emptive strike against it, as well as counterbalance the rise of China . Given his insecurities, whether real or perceived, North Korea has consistently demanded a negative security guarantee from the United States before it will denuclearize while the United States has been consistent in its position that Pyongyang must abandon the nuclear program first before any agreements are made. Moreover, the United States is dubious if such a guarantee or a pact will have any real significance. However, as doubtful as it may, it has had offered the North a negative security guarantee, stating its intent of non-aggression, a total of 30 times between 1989 and 2009 – to include the 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement, which stated, “The United States affirms that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons…”, only to have the North Koreans reject it [12-13]. Today, North Korea claims it will agree to return to the Six-Party Talk and work to resolve its nuclear issue if it has satisfactory results from bilateral discussions with the United States . Normalization of relations with the United States has been a long-time goal and desire for North Korea . Undoubtedly, it will seek to set the condition conducive to achieving this goal at any bilateral discussions with the United States. The United States will welcome the idea, but agree to do so if and only if the North agrees to completely give up its nuclear program and allow the international community to implement a mechanism that can verify the denuclearization process.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 6 The United States Secretary of State Clinton stated clearly the United States’ overall position regarding North Korea during her remarks at the ASEAN Regional Forum, “So our policy is clear. North Korea knows what it has to do: return to denuclearization talks and fulfill its commitments under the 2005 joint statement to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and return at an early date to the nonproliferation treaty and to IAEA safeguards. The path is open, and it is up to North Korea to take it.”  The United States has also taken the position any significant benefits to the North Koreans will only come after North Korea has made substantial progress in denuclearization, to counter the North’s salami tactics [7, 16]. The United States’ interests in the Northeast Asia served by its current position on North Korea are: 1) maintenance of its alliances with South Korea and Japan; 2) denuclearization of North Korea to prevent proliferation of its nuclear technology, components, and material to “undesirables” around the world (i.e. Iran, Myanmar, etc.); and 3) Support unification of the Korean Peninsula, on South Korean terms, if the prospect of unification without war or major damage to South Korea becomes possible . China’s View of North Korea In contrast to the United States, the Chinese approach to the North Korean issue is markedly softer. There are various factors involved in China’s decision to pursue a softer line, historical and geographical factors being one of them. China shares a long and porous border with North Korea, and China considers securing this border vital to its security. From the Chinese perspective, a foreign invading force could use the
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 7 Korean Peninsula as the springboard to launch an attack into the mainland – the Japanese troops attacked into Manchuria and then into the Chinese mainland proper after occupying the Korean Peninsula prior to World War II; during the Korean War, the United States advanced to the Yalu River before China, perceiving a threat to its security, intervened and pushed the Americans back to along the 38th parallel. These historical experiences made North Korea an important buffer state for China – if not militarily, then psychologically; and through its participation in Korean War, China and North Korea became Communist allies who shed blood for each other against an “invading” capitalist power. The Sino-North Korea friendship continues to this day. The Sino-North Korea Friendship and Mutual Assistance Treaty, signed in 1961, continues to be valid today despite the end of the Cold War and changes brought about in the international environment as a result . In contrast, Russia, the other Communist power in the region, abrogated its Treaty of Mutual Assistance of 1961 with North Korea in 1995 and replaced it with a Treaty of Friendship in 2000, which does not include military assistance to North Korea if it is attacked by another country . Aside from a shared past, China is also the principal economic donor-state for North Korea that supplies it with much needed oil and food. China’s primary position on the North Korean nuclear issue is that North Korea should be denuclearized, and the process should be negotiated through a multilateral negotiation forum such as the Six-Party Talks. At the same time it advocates North Korean regime stability and dislikes any action that may threaten the stability of the North’s Kim Jong-il regime, such as punitive UN or unilateral United States sanctions .
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 8 Preventing the North Korean regime collapse (which could cause a flood of refugees across into China from North Korea, and possibly have the United States military forces stationed immediately across the Yalu River); preventing the North Korean proliferation of ballistic missile and nuclear technology as well as components and material; and preventing the potential for a regional arms race  are the primary reasons behind China’s position on North Korean nuclear issue. China also has an interest in becoming the leader in not only the Northeast Asian security apparatus but in the East Asian 1 political, economic, and security arrangements as well [21-22], giving China increased influence and challenging the United States’ interests in the region. Naturally, one of the questions that weighs heavy on the Chinese leaders must be whether the United States, arguably a status quo state, would allow the change in the international system to accommodate this rising revisionist state, who in many ways directly challenges the hegemonic rule of the United States, or will it opt to counterbalance the challenger. This uncertainty is exacerbated by the Chinese perception that the United States’ foreign policy towards it is often ambiguous and inconsistent. This has caused the Chinese to be suspicious of the United States’ “true” intent towards them. China believes the United States policy toward China could be a Trojan horse that is designed to hide the United States’ intension of constraining and containing China, or it could be a policy designed to transform the Chinese
China views East Asia as encompassing both Northeast and Southeast Asian regions, specifically area covered by ASEAN + 3 (China, Japan, and Korea). This viewpoint was discussed in numerous Chinese scholars’ papers as well as being made clear during the discussions held at the Fourth East Asia Summit in Thailand. (See: Yu, X., China and Northeast Asian regional security cooperation. Asia-Pacific Review, 2005. 12(2): p. 30-38.; Qian, C. and X. Wu, The Art of China's Mediation during the Nuclear Crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Asian Affairs: An American Review, 2009. 36(2): p. 79-96.; East Asian Community. Asahi Shimbun 2009 November 12 [cited 2009 November 13]; Available from: http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200911120138.html.)
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 9 political and social systems altogether – which would mean it would be unnecessary for the United States to contain or constrain China since the “transformed” China would no longer be a threat to the United States . North Korea’s Bottom-line Continued development of nuclear weapons capabilities to deter American pre-emptive strike , and steps to denuclearization will only be taken after a satisfactory American assurance that it will cease to engage in a hostile policy against the North  has been the consistent position of North Korea. Regime survival and preservation of the current political power structure is North Korea’s primary interest. The ballistic missile and nuclear tests give North Korea the nuclear status and deterrence to external threats – perceived or real. Domestically, it provides propaganda to quell any dissenters, which all results in an environment suitable for Kim Jong-il to hand over the reins of power to his heir without any worries – not to mention securing Kim Jong-il’s place of glory in the North Korean history . North Korea’s other well known interests such as normalization of relations with the United States, gaining of unfettered access to international economic and financial markets, retention of its nuclear weapons capability to enhance national security, and receiving international economic and energy assistance are all predicated upon the survival of the North Korean regime and its current political power structure [13-14, 25-26]. There are two reasons that make the regime survival a paramount interest to the North Korean leadership. First, North Korea is arguably a monarchic society that exhibits more characteristics of a traditional Korean kingdom built based on Confucian rules than a communist
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 10 or socialist society . As such, preservation of the king and the royal family is paramount. Second, the desires of the North Korean society’s elites to preserve the current system, whether or not Kim Jong-il or his heir is in charge of North Korea. The North Korean elites are concerned if the current system were to collapse, they would be in a situation without any future. Lessons of Romania and East Germany when they undertook political and economic reforms are not lost to the North Korean elites. What happened in Romania and East Germany hit the North Korean elites very close to home since Romania had the closest political system to North Korea and East Germany was the only East European country born out of national division. Another factor that is not lost on the North Korean elites is that if the North Korean system were to collapse, the Korean Peninsula will most likely be unified with North Korea being absorbed by South Korea – which means the ex-North Korean elites will have to compete with South Korean business managers in an open market where the South Koreans will undoubtedly have an advantage .
Priorities, Desired Outcomes, and Payoffs Although there is a disparity in the approaches to denuclearizing North Korea between China and the United States, it is clear both states desire a non-nuclear North Korea. There is also disparity in the priorities and desired outcomes between the two states – denuclearization is top priority for the United States where as prevention of regime collapse is top priority for China; furthermore, end of Kim Jong-il regime and peaceful unification of Korean Peninsula is the top desired outcome for the United States while denuclearized North Korea with reform-minded but
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 11 intact North Korean regime and system is top desired outcome for China. For North Korea, clearly the regime survival is top priority, but it also desires to maintain its nuclear capability and continue to develop its nuclear program [7, 14, 26-28]. Figure 1 illustrates the priorities and desired outcomes for the United States, China, and North Korea. Based on the three states’ positions, interests, priorities, desired outcomes, and historical backgrounds, a relationship map can be constructed (illustrated by Figure 2). Given the priorities and desired outcomes, strategies and payoffs for each state can be determined by examining the
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 12 utility gained by each strategy . There are various factors involved in determining the total utility – for example, economic implications for North Korea if it decides to cooperate with the United States or China, or security implications for the United States if North Korea decides to denuclearize, etc. This paper selected the following factors to be used in determining the total utility for each country examined – North Korean regime survival, economic impact on North Korea, nuclear capability of North Korea, impact on Northeast Asian security situation from each nation-state’s perspective, cost associated with each strategy for each nation-state, and each nation-state’s place in the international community 2. Using these factors, the total utility of an individual state can be shown as follows [30-32]:
Definition of each terms are shown in Chart 1below:
Ui = f (RMNK, ENK, NNK, Si, Ci, Ii)
Ui Si Ii
RMNK ENK Ci NNK
Definition Total Utility of individual nation-state North Korean Regime Maintenance – Whether or not North Korea’s current regime is maintained (survives) Economic impact on North Korea – Does it contribute to the improvement of the North Korean economic situation and development? Nuclear capability of North Korea – A nuclear or denuclearized North Korea? Security Implication for each nation-state – How does it affect each nation-state’s security interests? Cost for each nation-state – What’s the cost associated for each nation-state? Each nation-state’s place in the international community – How is each nation-state’s place in the international community affected? Does the prestige of the nation-state improve or worsen? Does the credibility improve or worsen? Chart 1. Terms and Definitions for the Utility Function
I decided to use these factors to determine the total utility of each country based on my knowledge of the regional situation, research I’ve conducted writing this paper, and the interview (via email) with Mr. William David Straub, Associate Director of Korean Studies Program at Shorenstein APARC, Stanford University, conducted on 04 November 2009.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 13 Combining the function described above with the priorities and desired outcomes of each actor described earlier, specific utility function for each actor can be determined. The specific utility functions are shown below: The United States China North Korea
UUSA = – RMNK + ENK – NNK + SUSA + CUSA + IUSA UCHN = RMNK + ENK – NNK + SCHN + CCHN + ICHN UNK = RMNK + ENK + NNK + SNK + CNK + INK
Since each actor has diverging priorities and desired outcomes, they will place different weight on each factor that makes up the total utility function. The weighed utility function for each nation-state can be shown as follows: The United States China North Korea
UUSA = – α1RMNK + α2ENK – α3NNK + α4SUSA + α5CUSA + α6IUSA UCHN = β1RMNK + β2ENK – β3NNK + β4SCHN + β5CCHN + β6ICHN UNK = γ1RMNK + γ2ENK + γ3NNK + γ4SNK + γ5CNK + γ6INK
The values that will be assigned to each factor based on the scenario to calculate the total utility is shown in Chart 2 below.
RMNK ENK Si NNK
Value Assigned If the North Korean regime survives, value = 1 If the North Korean regime collapses, value = -1 If the North Korean regime reforms, value = 0 If North Korea’s economy is improved, value = 1 If North Korea’s economy collapses further, value = -1 If North Korea’s economy remains the same, value = 0 If North Korea retains its nuclear capability, value = 1 If North Korea denuclearizes, value = -1 If the security situation for the country improves, value = 1 If the security situation for the country worsens, value = -1 If the security situation for the country remains the same, value = 0
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 14
If the cost is reduced, value = 1 If additional cost is incurred, value = -1 If the cost remains the same, value = 0 If the country’s position in the international community rises, value = 1 If the country’s position in the international community falls, value = -1 If the country’s position in the international community stays the same, or if its position in the international community doesn’t matter, value = 0 Chart 2. Values Assigned to Each Factor based on Scenario
factor NNK was given a weight of 6. This would mean α3NNK = 6NNK for the United States.
For the United States, the first priority is the denuclearization of North Korea. Thus, the
Korea’s possession of nuclear capability is based on its perception of regional and international
Following the same vein, weight of 5 was given to SUSA as the United States’ concern for North
was given to CUSA for the cost involved in either successfully denuclearizing North Korea or
RMNK since the United States ultimately desires a regime change in North Korea. A weight of 3
security implications if North Korea retains its nuclear program. A weight of 4 was assigned to failure to do so. A weight of 2 was assigned to IUSA, and a weight of 1 for ENK. With different
weights assigned to each term, the total utility function for the United States can be now shown as follows:
UUSA = – 4RMNK + 1ENK – 6NNK + 5SUSA + 3CUSA + 2IUSA
the RMNK was given a weight of 6 for China. Given that China wants to prevent the collapse of associated in supporting the North Korean regime, a weight of 5 was assigned to SCHN and 4 to North Korea for its own security reasons, and assuming China would be sensitive to cost
For China, the first priority is the prevention of the North Korean regime collapse. Thus,
North Korea and Sino-American Relations
CCHN. A weight of 3 was given to NNK, a weight of 2 for ICHN, and a weight of 1 for ENK for China.
15 The total utility function for China with weights can be now shown as:
UCHN = 6RMNK + 1ENK – 3NNK + 5SCHN + 4CCHN + 2ICHN
of 6 was assigned to RMNK. Since North Korea sees its nuclear capability as the path to its
For North Korea, the first priority is prevention of its regime collapse; therefore, a weight
weight of 2 was assigned to both SNK and INK. A weight of 1 was given to CNK. The total utility function for North Korea with weights can be now shown as:
given to NNK. Assuming North Korea would most likely give a higher priority to its economic economic recovery, international prestige, and improved national security, a weight of 5 was
recovery in order to continue to maintain its regime, a weight of 4 was placed on ENK. An equal
UNK = 6RMNK + 4ENK + 5NNK + 2SNK + 1CNK + 2INK
Using these utility functions, each country’s payoff for each strategy can now be determined quantitatively. Three different matrixes were set up to determine the payoffs: The United States – North Korea, China – North Korea, and The United States – China. The strategies for the United States and China were simplified to Cooperate and Not Cooperate (denoted as CO and NC in the matrixes) in the Matrixes while North Korean strategies were simplified to Cooperate and Denuclearize, Cooperate and Not Denuclearize, and Not Cooperate and Not Denuclearize (denoted as CD, CND, and NCND in the Matrixes). Figure 3-1 illustrates
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 16 the strategies and payoffs for the United States and North Korea, and Figure 3-2 illustrates the strategies and payoffs for China and North Korea.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 17 choices, the factor ENK was eliminated since the values for both factors were identical for both countries (+1ENK). In addition, to calculate the total utility for China compared to the United gain ground in reputation and prestige against the United States on the international stage. States, the weight given to ICHN was changed from 2 to 4 because it is paramount for China to To calculate the total utility for the United States and China against each other’s strategic
Moreover, the weight for CCHN was changed from 4 to 2. For the United States, the total utility function was left as the same as the calculations with North Korea. Therefore, the total utility functions for the United States – China strategy and payoff calculations are: The United States China
UUSA = – 4RMNK – 6NNK + 5SUSA + 3CUSA + 2IUSA UCHN = 6RMNK– 3NNK + 5SCHN + 2CCHN + 4ICHN
Figure 3-3 illustrates the strategies and payoffs for the United States and China.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 18 Figures 3-1 and 3-2 clearly show the dominant strategy for North Korea against both the United States and China is to cooperate with both countries while negotiating to retain its nuclear capability. They show that while North Korea can obtain positive utility by cooperating and denuclearizing, the payoff is much higher if it can negotiate a settlement where it can retain its nuclear stockpile. These results are consistent with Cha’s opinion . For the United Sates, the best strategy with the highest payoff, if it seeks to maximize its utility, is to cooperate with North Korea and North Korea cooperates and denuclearizes; however, cooperation is also the worst strategy with the lowest payoff for the United States if North Korea decides not to cooperate and simultaneously retains its nuclear program. On the other hand, if the United States wants to choose a risk-averse strategy, not cooperating with North Korea regardless of North Korea’s decision would be the best strategy. These results seem to be consistent with the “two track” approach the United States is taking with North Korea today. By enforcing the UN and unilateral sanctions on North Korea, the United States has chosen the strategy not to cooperate with North Korea. Concurrently, the United States has consistently signaled to the North its willingness to cooperate. North Korea has recently stated it is willing to cooperate and discuss denuclearization, and the United States has realized positive utility by choosing not to cooperate – as shown in Figure 3-1. On December 8, 2009, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth will visit North Korea to conduct bilateral talks with the North Korean leadership  – ostensibly to propose to the North cooperative steps on how to resolve the nuclear impasse. This is clearly a cooperative strategy, and one could argue – certainly some of the current United States administration officials would – the United States now has an
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 19 opportunity to maximize its utility by choosing to employ both cooperative and non-cooperative strategies simultaneously, creating the situation described in the upper left-hand square of Figure 3-1. It should be pointed out that the utility calculation also does suggest that the option of not cooperate should not be used alone without the possibility of changing the strategy to cooperative at some point of the relationship because the consequence of the United States and North Korea both not cooperating could be catastrophic to the Northeast Asian security arrangement – as shown in the lower right-hand square of Figure 3-1. If the United States is not going to use both cooperative and not cooperative strategies, whether simultaneously as it is doing now or sequentially, the results show the only viable choice for the United States at that point is to cooperate. As for the United States strategy for Sino-American engagement in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, cooperation is the strategy that both maximizes the utility and is risk-averse whether or not China chooses to cooperate with the United States or not (shown in Figure 3-3). For China, cooperation, again, is the best strategy with the highest payoff against North Korea. Relative to the United States, however, China has more maneuvering space as to its decision to whether to cooperate or not to cooperate with North Korea because for China the only scenario that will cause China to realize negative utility is if North Korea decides not to cooperate and retain its nuclear capability at the same time (shown in Figure 3-2).
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 20 Implications and Recommendations Implications for Sino-American Relation The three strategy and payoff matrixes illustrated quantitatively the divergent priorities and desired outcomes of the United States and China in regards to the North Korean nuclear issue. It was determined the United States can only realize a positive utility if and only if the United States cooperated with China and China cooperated with the United States in return. In contrast, while China maximized its utility if it cooperated with the United States, it would not realize a negative utility as long as the United States cooperated with it. In relation to North Korea, the United States was able to realize positive utility if the United States cooperated with North Korea and North Korea cooperated and denuclearized in return, or if the United States chose not to cooperate but the North decided to cooperate and denuclearize anyway. Dissimilarly, while China was shown to maximize its utility if it cooperated with North Korea and North Korea cooperated and denuclearized in return, it was able to realize a small amount of utility, or at least break even, as long as North Korea cooperated with China regardless of if North Korea denuclearized or not. Based on these results, it can be concluded the United States must cooperate with both China and North Korea and persuade North Korea to denuclearize (whether directly or indirectly through China) to protect its interests and achieve its policy goals. It can also be concluded China has more options in dealing with both the United States and North Korea. While it is best for China to cooperate with both the United States and North Korea and entice North Korea to denuclearize, unlike the United States, China can protect its interests and achieve its policy goals
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 21 even if North Korea does not denuclearize. Both the United States and China realize highest utility if the two countries cooperated fully and North Korea denuclearized; therefore, it is most likely the two countries will continue to cooperate in the future to bring North Korea to the negotiating table with the ultimate goal of denuclearizing it. However, the analysis also clearly showed that disparity of circumstances and priorities could generate conflict between Washington and Beijing in their independent pursuit of national interests. Some Recommendations To encourage China’s continued cooperation with the United States, maximize the probability of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, and minimize potential future conflict in the Sino-American relations stemming from the two countries’ divergent priorities concerning North Korea, the United States must make a concerted effort to modify China’s utility function, thus changing China’s priorities and desired outcomes. A sensitivity test was conducted for the Chinese and the United States utility functions to examine which factor(s) would cause China’s factor, followed by SCHN and ICHN. 3 These results are reflective of China’s current priorities and total utility value to change the most. The test results showed RMNK to be the most sensitive
preferences discussed earlier in this paper. Although China would much rather prefer an open and reform-minded leadership than the current North Korean regime, it is in its interest not to allow the current regime to collapse without a viable replacement structure in place that can
govern North Korea without sending it into chaos. The underpinnings of this Chinese interest in
The sensitivity test showed the total utility for China changes the most if the RMNK factor became a negative factor like that of the United States. The utility changed the second most when RMNK’s weight was simply reduced and remained a positive factor, third most when the weight of SCHN was reduced, and fourth most when the weight of ICHN was changed.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 22 the North Korean regime survival are its perspectives on its own history and national security – which was identified as the second most sensitive factor in the Chinese utility function during the sensitivity test. Given RMNK and SCHN are the two most sensitive factors for China, the United States should explore the means to change the value China places on them. First, one of China’s interests in maintaining the North Korean regime (RMNK) stems from its anxiety against the expected humanitarian catastrophe it will have to face in an event of a regime collapse. To ease this anxiety, the United States could offer financial and material assistance to China (without the involvement of the United States military) in the event of the North Korean regime collapse, thus decreasing the cost for China as it deals with the ensuing refugee problem. Second, China has quite a bit of economic interests invested in North Korea in trade, mineral mining deals, and other economic agreements [34-35]. The economic agreements China has with North Korea probably will no longer be valid once North Korea ceases to exist – one of the reasons China prefers an open and reform-minded North Korean government to the current North Korean regime or the total collapse. The United States could change its position on North Korea from regime change to regime reform – more along the line of the Chinese thinking – thus sending a clear signal to China that the United States understands China’s concerns and that the United States’ interests are not that dissimilar to those of China’s. The United States could also offer to China that it would play the role of the neutral third-party moderator to ensure China’s interests are represented fairly if and when China negotiates with the government of the Unified Korea (presumably unified under the South Korean rule) to have its economic agreements with North
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 23 Korea recognized to be valid (whether in whole or partially) even after the unification of the Korean Peninsula. Third, China is concerned that it will have the American military stationed immediately south of the Yalu River if North Korea collapses (This issue affects both factors RMNK and SCHN ). Since the unification of the Korean Peninsula will not make it likely for the United States to withdraw its forces from Korea, the United States could agree with China not to move its forces north of where they are stationed today, and not to conduct military training near the Chinese border. It may even consider reducing the number of American troops stationed in Korea after unification of the Korean Peninsula as a measure of good faith. A more concrete security assurance for China may be for the United States and China to negotiate a nonaggression agreement, which would provide China with a negative security guarantee. Additionally, to improve confidence between China and the United States, the two countries could agree to increase their mutual military education and training exchanges. As a confidencebuilding measure, combined 4 military training exercises between the United States and China may also be considered. It is clear not all possible scenarios on how to change the value China places on RMNK and SCHN are presented; however, the recommendations proposed in this paper are both realistic and plausible options for the United States to adopt in order to encourage China to cooperate more fully with it on the North Korean nuclear issue and transform the Sino-American relation to lessen the potential discord in the future.
Doctrinally, the term combined is used when describing an operation where two or more countries are involved. The term joint is used when describing an operation where two or more branches of military service from a single country are involved.
North Korea and Sino-American Relations 24 Conclusion The cooperation China and the United States has shown to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue is no doubt one of the success stories of the international cooperation; however, China and the United States does have different perceptions of North Korea stemming from their divergent strategic interests. For China, its interests include sustaining its neighbor in political, and security terms. For the United States, North Korea’s nuclear intentions constitute a security challenge, both regionally and globally. The strategy and payoff matrixes for both countries clearly show the best strategy for them is to cooperate with each other to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue; however, it was also clear that as these two powers have despairing priorities, and as they pursue their individual national interests, there may be some political, economic, and military factors that could cause one or both countries to choose not to cooperate. In the near-term, China and the United States are most likely to continue their cooperation to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue; however, the road to narrowing the strategic differences of the two countries will be long and difficult. Unfortunately, this probably means the North Korean nuclear issue will not see much progress either. For the United States, adoption of a set of bold policies, such as providing a negative security guarantee to China, proposing to reduce the number of American troops stationed in Korea upon unification of the Korean Peninsula, or creating an environment where a unified Korean Peninsula would ensure China a much higher economic benefit than a divided one, could pay dividends in both ensuring the Chinese cooperation and transforming the Sino-American relations – not only surrounding the North Korean issue but also for the overall strategic relationship.
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