China varies in nuclear policy

Daniel Park

Dr. Hochul Lee of the University of Incheon, Korea talked about the contrasting stances China took in regards to its two nuclear crises in his talk on Oct. 2. The lecture mainly focused on China’s gradual political evolution due to North Korea’s rebellious stance. Lee’s presence has been an important factor in the South Korean government’s foreign affairs, and he has had various research printed by Chinese publications.

His holistic stance on North Korean matters orbits around the sequence of events that has occurred since the early 1990s, which has resulted in the transformation of fundamental Chinese politics.

“The question arises as to why China decided to take a more active role in the second nuclear crises in comparison to the first one. What was the gain they foresaw?” Lee said.

The talk revolved around the nuclear crises that occurred in South East Asia within the early mid 1990s and the early 2000s. The highlight of the lecture was when he talked about why China initially decided to take a passive, “behind the scenes” domestic stance during the first crisis, when in comparison China took a more “aggressive” and proactive diplomatic approach in the second crisis.

The discussion continued over several highly possible insights into China’s security and strategic interests. The preservation of North Korea as a buffer zone, maintaining cooperative relationship with America, the prevention of nuclear domino and the continuation of economic development were all factors discussed over why China decided to implement stronger international policy tactics.

“I emphasize why it was such distinct contrasting behavior from China, although the strategic and security interest existed similarly in the first and second nuclear crises. It wasn’t necessarily purely this sequence of events that caused China’s change from a ‘cautious accommodator’ to a state of ‘constructive architects,’” Lee said.

The evidence provided in his thesis shows that the internal transition of power in Chinese politics was also a major factor in bending traditional Chinese political views.

“Through these head on debates, experiences and encounters by China, they had been persuaded to change their domestic policy because they had realized that their influence could be enormous in global affairs,” Lee said.

The complexity of China’s position in maintaining its alliance with North Korea as well as its goodwill relationship with the United States has put China in a troublesome spot.

“One thing is for certain, the fact that China is trying to pressure North Korea into agreeing with the denuclearization program is definite,” Lee said.

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