World View: China Threatens to Cut Off Aid to North Korea

World View: China Threatens to Cut Off Aid to North Korea

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China threatens to cut off aid to North Korea
  • Russia blames the West for fomenting jihadist ‘blowback’

China threatens to cut off aid to North Korea

Xi Jinping, China's new president
Xi Jinping, China’s new president

A highly significant and highly fascinating English language editorialappeared Friday in China’s Global Times, an organ of the ChineseCommunist Party (CCP) in Beijing (emphasis mine): 

Not all Peninsula issues China’s problem

In response to UN Security Council Resolution 2087 which wasapproved on Wednesday, North Korea vowed that it will carry out abecause South Korea says preparation for North Korea’s new nucleartest is already in progress.

Wednesday’s UN resolution condemned North Korea’s rocket launch inDecember and expanded existing sanctions. After putting a lot ofeffort into amendments for the draft resolution, China also votedfor it.

It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China’s efforts. Itcriticized China without explicitly naming it in its statementyesterday: “Those big countries, which are obliged to take thelead in building a fair world order, are abandoning withouthesitation even elementary principles, under the influence of theUS’ arbitrary and high-handed practices, and failing to come totheir senses.”

China has a dilemma: We are further away from the goal ofdenuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and there’s no possibleway for us to search for a diplomatic balance between North Koreaand South Korea, Japan and the US.

China should be more relaxed and reduce our expectations on theeffect of our strategies toward the peninsula. We should have apragmatic attitude to deal with the problems and pursue theoptimal ratio between our investment of resources and strategicgains.

China can neither take one side of the peninsula conflict like theUS and Japan nor dream of staying aloof. We should readily acceptthat China is involved and may offend one side or both sides.

China’s role and position are clear when discussing North Koreaissue in the UN Security Council. If North Korea engages infurther nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce itsassistance to North Korea. If the US, Japan and SouthKorea promote extreme UN sanctions on North Korea, China willresolutely stop them and force them to amend these draftresolutions.

Just let North Korea be “angry.” We can’t sit by and do nothingjust because we are worried it might impact the Sino-North Koreanrelationship. Just let the US, Japan and South Korea grumble aboutChina. We have no obligation to soothe their feelings.

Due to China’s strength, as long as our attitude is resolute, thesituation will be gradually influenced by our principles and ourinsistence.

China is a power adjacent to the Korean Peninsula. This means thatour strategic interests are complex and diverse. China shouldmaintain our national interest to the full extent instead of anyother side’s interests.

China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it’s not the end of theworld if there’s trouble there. This should be the baseline ofChina’s position.

China is doomed to be located in East Asia where the situation isnow quite chaotic. But luckily, China is the most powerful amongthe region’s countries, so it will be influenced the least by thesituation. China should stay calm.

China has been displaying increasing impatience with its client, North Korea,but the new leadership, led by president Xi Jinping, is apparently willingto demonstrate its impatience in a big way. 

There’s a game of brinksmanship going on here. Is Xi simply bluffing?China does not want North Korea to run that nuclear weapon test. Theyouthful North Korean president Kim Jong-un will look extremely weakif he now doesn’t run the test. If he does, Xi hasapparently backed himself into a corner, and presumably will be forcedto reduce China’s assistance. This doesn’t mean that all assistance,particularly food aid, will be cut off, but presumably somesignificant component of the assistance will be affected. Let’s allfeel some Schadenfreude for the Chinese. This may even turn out to befun to watch. Global Times

Russia blames the West for fomenting jihadist ‘blowback’

Russian president Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West in recentdays for pursuing what he regards as naive and incoherent Middle Eastpolicies. The reasoning is that the West has supported movements tooppose dictators in Libya and Syria, and doing that has energizedSunni Muslim jihadist groups. 

According to Putin: 

The Syrian conflict has been raging for almost twoyears now. Upheaval in Libya, accompanied by the uncontrolledspread of weapons, contributed to the deterioration of thesituation in Mali. The tragic consequences of these events led toa terrorist attack in Algeria which took the lives of civilians,including foreigners.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added the following: 

Those whom the French and Africans are fighting nowin Mali are the same people who … our Western partners armed sothat they would overthrow the Gaddafi regime [inLibya].

With Russia heading deep into a generational Crisis era, the faultline between Caucasian Muslims and ethnic Russians has been growingexponentially in recent years, and Putin is implying that the West isat fault because of Syria and Libya. According to one Russiananalyst: 

Russia is on the frontier, we are in jihad territory.Our own fringes, the northern Caucasus, Central Asia, and even thecentral Volga region are threatened. That’s why we’re very clearabout who the enemy is… We know this, and you would think thatafter 9/11 and other events that our American and Europeancolleagues would have some clarity about it, too. Yet they alwaysseem ready to play with fire, and to use militant jihadistsagainst Russia and its national interests – as they did inAfghanistan, Chechnya, Libya, and Syria.

The Russian criticism of the West even goes back to the Soviet invasionof Afghanistan in the 1980s. Instead of blaming themselves forenergizing the Sunni Muslim jihadists there, and creating al-Qaedaand the Taliban, they blame the West for supplying weapons to thosefighting the Soviets (who, at that time, formed an “Evil Empire” thatwas our enemy).

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is very littleto support the Russian analysis. There have been huge, genocidal warsbetween the Orthodox Christian civilization and the Muslimcivilization for centuries, and the West didn’t cause those wars.Furthermore, if I had to pick just one event that energized the SunniMuslim jihadists from Indonesia to the Maghreb and up to the Caucasus,that event would be Iran’s 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed bythe Iran/Iraq war (a regional Shia/Sunni war) of the 1980s. 

In the West, we focus on World War II as the most significant war ofthe 20th century, but for most Muslim countries that was just anotherwar — brutal and bloody like all wars, but not a generational Crisiswar. The Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war shook theentire Muslim world, and particularly inspired Osama bin Laden tostart his jihadist movement to duplicate Iran’s revolution, which wasa victory for Shia Muslims, with a similar revolution for a Sunnial-Qaeda state. 

Al-Qaeda and its splinter groups have tried this inIraq, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now inMali, and they’ve failed every time so far. Meanwhile, the ArabSpring, which was also not caused by the West, is destabilizing theentire Mideast, which is trending towards a much larger Sunni/Shiawar. 

Within Russia itself, the growing fault line is between the (OrthodoxChristian) ethnic Russians and the (Sunni Muslim) ethnic groups in theCaucasus. However, the mutual xenophobia is not limited to theCaucasus. Violence between Russians and Caucasians has spread acrossthe country, particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as we’ve reportedin the past. 

It’s affected the army, in that Russians and Caucasianscan no longer serve together. Even the Caucasus itself is becomingdevoid of Russians. There has been a massive outflow of ethnicRussians from the Caucasus since 1991, when the Chechen leadershipdeclared a so-called “Islamic state,” and conducted a targetedanti-Russian policy. As a result, the number of Russians in Chechnyawent from 220 thousand in 1991 to just 25 thousand in 1999, and theoutflow has continued since then. 

It’s very convenient for Vladimir Putin to blame the West for a SunniMuslim vs Orthodox Christian fault line that’s existed for centuries.But as Russia’s generational Crisis era heads towards a full-scalewar, repeating the genocides of past centuries, Putin is going to haveto leave his fantasy bubble world and figure out how to save Russia.CS Monitor and Newsland (Trans) (Russia) and Sova Center (Russia)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, North Korea, Global Times,Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un, Russia, Vladimir Putin,Sergei Lavrov, Caucasus

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