On March 12, 2012, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies hosted the 15th Asan Dosirak Series with Dr. Yang Xiyu of the China Institute of International Studies under the title, “ROK-China Relations in Strategic Context.” Dr. Yang expressed his views on the current affairs between China and the Korean Peninsula as well as prospective China-North Korea and China-South Korea relationships.
Date/Time: Monday, March 12, 2012/ 9:30-11:30
Place: Conference Room (2F), The Asan Institute for Policy Studies
Dr. Yang Xiyu addressed the following topics: China’s foreign policy towards the two Koreas, what China supports and opposes in its relations with North Korea, the 9.19 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and the latest development on U.S.-DPRK negotiations. He discussed China’s pre-Cold War foreign policy towards the DPRK and ROK, and what directions it’s heading in terms of political, economic, and military aspects. Dr. Yang emphasized the unique nature of the relationships between China and the two Koreas in comparison to China’s bilateral relations with other countries, stressing that China-DPRK, China-ROK relations are not purely bilateral in China’s perspective, for they are affected by trilateral dynamics.
Dr. Yang said China views the Korean Peninsula as a vital neighboring area. Consequently, the nature of China’s future foreign policy towards the two Koreas is one of friendship. It aims for comprehensive cooperation in the fields of economy, politics and security in efforts to prevent military confrontation between North and South Korea. In China’s perspective, Dr. Yang said, the security structure of the peninsula should depend on whether a permanent peace regime can be established.
In the subsequent Q&A session, questions were raised as to whether DPRK leader Kim Jong-un will follow his father’s governance style in terms of economic reforms and the nuclear issue, and whether such policies will involve China. Dr. Lee In-ho, Chairperson of the Asan Institute pointed out that North Korea’s insecurity and fear of isolation seems to serve as a justification for becoming a nuclear state. She asked whether China has strengthened military ties with North Korea due to the circumstances.
The session also covered questions regarding how public opinions in China affect Chinese leaders and their policies towards North Korea. The ensuing question was whether the Chinese think they’re getting their money’s worth when it comes to its economic relations with North Korea. Further addressed was whether the Chinese government was willing to participate in trilateral talks among China, South Korea, and the United States regarding non-military contingency situations in the North.
Since Dr. Yang was heavily involved in the planning and organizing of the Six Party Talks negotiations, during the lecture at the Asan Institute, he stressed that the Six Party Talks aim for full normalization between North Korea and other countries, as well as for the denuclearization of North Korea by peaceful means.
Additionally, the North Korean defector issue was briefly discussed, and the recent U.S.-ROK military exercises to which North Korea has issued harsh rhetoric were examined. The current Ieodo Island dispute was also mentioned, and questions were raised on how to interpret statements from Beijing about the disputed claims.