A study of China-North Korea relations in the post-Cold War realm



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While complex and turbulent, the China-North Korea relationship has grown stronger during the post-Cold War era, with China emerging as a global power that has replaced the former Soviet Union as North Korea's primary defense treaty ally, economic and political supporter, and provider of geopolitical cover on the international stage. This study examines the evolution of ties between Beijing and Pyongyang over the more than three-decade span since 1990, a period marked by North Korea's emergence as a nuclear armed nation, and shaped by fast evolving developments on the East Asian geopolitical landscape, where China and the United States find themselves locked in increasingly militarized competition amid uncertainty over the true extent to which Beijing and Pyongyang are working together as strategic partners against America and its allies. While Beijing relies on North Korea as a buffer between mainland China and U.S. forces in the region, and benefits from nearly unfettered access to North Korean natural resources, Chinese leaders are seen to be frustrated by the rogue behavior of the ruling Kim regime in Pyongyang. For its own part, the regime has a history of harboring deep paranoia toward the prospect of being controlled by China, even as its survival depends on Beijing's support. All the while, the question of whether successive U.S. administrations have erred since the early-1990s in assuming that Beijing could be relied upon as a partner in efforts to contain the Kim regime and rid North Korea of nuclear weapons, looms in the backdrop of contemporary dynamics that find Pyongyang playing a crucially consequential role in a rising new Cold War between China and the United States.



China, North Korea, relations, relationship, military, political, economic, Cold War, post-Cold War, nuclear, weapons, missiles, contemporary, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il, United States, strategy, conflict, strategic, history, six-party talks, great famine, Kim regime, communist party, coal, energy, illicit, sanctions, criminal sovereignty, power, global, security, threat, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Soviet Union, Russia, treaty, escalation, diplomacy, mutual defense