March 2, 2009 (the date of publication in Russian)

Alexander Sobko


China demands serious geopolitical concessions from the USA in exchange for the dollar support

On February 28, 2009 the administration of North Korea again stated the inadmissibility of prolonging "provocations" in the buffer zone, which basically is the border between South Korea and the DRPK. The warning was in the first place addressed to the US military contingent which is based on the territory of the Republic of Korea and is connected with forthcoming joint military maneuvers of the US and South Korean forces. The North Korean government noticed that such provocations will lead to "resolute counteractions".

Recently Pyongyang has been persistently demonstrating its readiness to a "defensive war". That way, in February the military government of South Korea announced that DRPK had deployed ballistic missiles, capable of reaching aims 3000 kilometers away and carry a warhead up to 650 kilos of weight.

Recently another missile was actively prepared to be launched. Western experts suppose it was the most powerful North Korean ballistic missile of Taepodong-2 type with 6700 km radius of action, which means it can strike the US western (Pacific) coast.

The UN Security Council resolution prohibits DPRK from developing ballistic missiles, so Pyongyang stated it claimed to put an experimental communication satellite on the orbit with the help of a carrier missile, defending their right to "non-military space program". But US Pacific Command has already promised to shoot down any missile launched from the territory of North Korea.

We can't exclude Pyongyang launching a really harmless non-military satellite, so the USA will be called an aggressor after it shoots the missile. It's really curious, that 25 years ago the US special services counted upon the same effect while organizing a provocation with South Korean plane which was shot by the Soviet fighter. Now this American know-how in destabilization of world situation is coming back to its creators like a boomerang. The only difference is that Kim Jong-Il uses a piece of metal as a "teaser", and Americans used living people, who were on board of a civil plane.

But what does Pyongyang wants to obtain by provoking the USA into the use of force without crossing the line of international right? Traditionally these actions of the administration of North Korea are explained with Pyongyang's will to strengthen its positions during the next round of bargaining in temporary stopped "Help in exchange for disarmament" program.

But there are many reasons to suppose that China is conducting the events, as North Korea is strongly dependent on it both economically and politically.

US-Chinese bargaining with the participation of DPRK is taking place for a long time already. For example, in August, 2008 North Korea undertook a demarche, proclaiming it stopped the dismantling of the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. That time the conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia took place, so the threat of the increasing separatist mood in Taiwan appeared, and Beijing obviously decided to anticipate probable "warming-up" of the very tendencies by Washington.

But now with the help of world financial crisis the situation has changed in favor of China. The USA is extremely interested in China supporting the dollar (which is actually confirmed by initiatives of creating Chinese-American union, a so-called G2, recently announced by Brzezinski). But even acknowledging mutual Chinese and US interest in the existing financial system, Beijing isn't going to save the US economy without getting extra geopolitical concessions.

China is still unpleased with the US actions near its borders – with its attempts to overthrow military junta in Burma and with interference in Pakistan. But the special Chinese interest is now in the US rejection of the military protection of Taiwan and the decrease in the number of the US forces in South Korea.

In perspective Beijing intends to press for the US forces to leave Korean peninsula and for the unification of Koreas (of course, on terms China lays), to get an access to this big and perspective market. But now the USA is the main Korean economic partner.

Thus the new coil of tension in the region launched by Pyongyang might turn to be a new Chinese signal to the USA, showing a new round of geopolitical bargaining began. A bargaining, which is initiated by China this time.

However there also is North Korean and US governments' interest in worsening the situation in the triangle the USA – China – the DPRK. The irony of the moment is that Kim Jong-Il obviously isn't delighted with probable unification by "Chinese scenario". As in that case military men from North Korea will begin to play the leading part, while party elites will have to content themselves with modest status.

Plus the conflict with the North Korean missile has one more important aspect. If nevertheless the launching takes place and the USA finds courage to shoot the missile, this will be a good checkout for the US missile defense system. Although, almost exact data about the placement of the missile and comparative primitiveness of Korean missile create a "hothouse conditions" for the experiment of that kind.

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