Byline: Jason Lim, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
With each passing day, it seems more and more likely that the current North Korean regime's days are numbered. Suspicious railroad explosions, the recent purge of a powerful relative of Kim Jong Il and an exodus of upper class elites all indicate a regime on the verge of a breakdown.
This means America should not limit her strategic perspective only to the nuclear issue but should also prepare for a possible North Korean implosion. What we do in the immediate aftermath of North Korea's collapse will dictate what we can do in this vital region for a long time to come.
The worst long-term scenario for America is that the Chinese will take the initiative and trigger an internal coup that would overthrow Kim Jong Il and replace his cabal with a Beijing-friendly military dictatorship. It would truly be a foreign policy disaster for America to allow the Chinese to do this, for it would help China establish hegemony over vast stretches of north Asia.
It cannot be denied that China represents the biggest challenge to America's primacy in economy, technology, industry and international influence. According to recent New York Times feature stories, Chinese economic and cultural influence is supplanting America's in many regions of Asia. Chinese ambition to dominate much if not all of Asia is evident, as proven by official policies aimed at purposely misinterpreting local histories around its border regions in order to justify a possible Chinese territorial takeover in the future.
China has a history of such actions. For example, China claims that Tibet is now part of China because Tibet was part of the original Mongolian empire founded by Genghis Khan. According to the same logic, half of Eastern Europe should be China's.
A far more urgent example is the Northeast Asia Project backed by the state-run China Academy of Social Sciences. With funding in the billions of dollars and spanning over 5 years and counting, this supposedly academic project researching the history of the northeast region of China suddenly claims that the most important parts of ancient Korean history are actually Chinese. China claims that Koguryo (B.C. 37-A.D. 668) and Palhae (698-926), both ancient kingdoms of the Korean people that largely occupied what is now Manchuria and North Korea, were actually Chinese vassal states.
The main reason for these patently false claims is obvious. China wants to safeguard her interests and extend her influence in northeast Asia. Most assume that the two Koreas will be unified once North Korea collapses. However, a more likely possibility is for North Korea to be absorbed by China. With North Korea currently dependent on China for many of its basic necessities including fuel, the absorption process could actually be very smooth and natural. Further, in order to justify a full absorption, China can conveniently point to the "academic" research by the Northeast Project team that purports to prove that Manchuria and North Korea were originally Chinese to begin with. …