Sunday, May 30, 2010

China Speaks

The ramifications of the sinking of the Chon An by North Korea is entering a new, but likely closing phase as preparations are made for additonal sanctions by the United Nations.  Although the bellicose rhetoric from the North and the all but severing of economic and political contacts by the South continue, no sense of military action by either side is evident.  It is in everyone's interest that it stays that way. 

China has taken position that comports with its traditional desire to maintain the status quo on the peninsula. Even Beijing seems to be having difficulty with the reasons for this escalation by the North.  Despite the event, the reason for the sinking is less important than containing the potential damage. The next phase in the UN will begin to define how China's position in the region will be judged, but this remark will be parsed until the sanctions regime is subjected to a vote: "China will defend no one" whatever the outcome may be, Wen (China's Premier) also said, according to Lee (SK President).

Depending on the nature and extent of the sanctions, that remark could mean an abstention. If so, the North is in for a very rough time if sanctions are imposed.  China cannot afford an unstable North - particulary one which might lash out militarily confronting China with an even worse foreign policy dilema. The deal may this - China abstains, sanctions are imposed, China feeds the North to keep it from collapse. Face is saved.

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