Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Rallies Tokyo and Seoul, Rails against China's Support for North Korea

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Rallies Tokyo and Seoul, Rails against China's Support for North Korea

Article excerpt

China's highest-ranking foreign affairs official went to Pyongyang on Thursday, just after US Adm. Mike Mullen visited Japan and South Korea.

Both China and North Korea appear eager to put on a show of business as usual amid US diplomatic and military moves to bring together America's two regional allies, South Korea and Japan.

While China and North Korea solidified their relationship in a quick visit Thursday to Pyongyang by Dai Bingguo, China's highest- ranking foreign affairs official, the US shored up its trilateral relationship with South Korea and Japan. To the disappointment of South Koreans as well as Americans, analysts saw no sign of significant Chinese pressure on North Korea to pull back from confrontation with the South.

The cordial tone of official Chinese and North Korean dispatches contradicted what many see as the wishful thinking of South Korea's national security adviser, Chun Yung-woo.

Mr. Chun was quoted in a US document released by WikiLeaks as telling the US ambassador to South Korea, Kathleen Stephens, in February 2010 that China "would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a 'benign alliance' as long as Korea was not hostile toward China."

WikiLeaks also released a separate US cable quoting a Chinese vice foreign minister, He Yafei, as saying in 2009 that North Korea's behavior in conducting missile tests that April was that of "a spoiled child."

Two high-level trips by Americans next week are expected to elicit some understanding of the depth of real attitudes in Beijing and Pyongyang. James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, travels to Beijing to impress upon the Chinese the need to hold North Korea in check if the Chinese really want "stability," as they often say.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is planning to visit North Korea next week. Mr. Richardson, who has visited several times over the years, has been a strong advocate of "engagement" with North Korea and is expected to try to lay the groundwork for renewed dialogue between North Korea and the US.

At the same time, Dai, reputed as a highly skilled negotiator on close terms with China's President Hu Jintao, is assumed by South Korean officials to have stressed the advantages for North Korea of increasing Chinese aid and trade. …

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