Small State, Big Influence: China's North Korea Policy Dilemma
Cha, Victor D
This article seeks to analyze why China is reluctant to significantly change its North Korea policy despite continued North Korean nuclear provocations that have hindered China's own strategic and security interests. The conventional understandings of China's desire for a strategic buffer zone, fear of refugee influx, ideological affinities with the Korean regime, and desire for trade with North Korea are insufficient explanations for China's policy rigidity. Instead, taking literatures on behaviors of small and big powers during the Cold War period as theoretical framework, this article finds that North Korea is able to influence China's policy options more than China is able to influence North Korea. China is bound by the de jure alliance with North Korea and the alliance is asymmetric in terms of power. As a small power, North Korea can ignore its influence on the international society and pursue parochial interests. On the other hand, China must consider various aspects of policy influence before it reacts to North Korea's behavior.
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Wang, Tianyi (Georgetown University. School of Foreign Service. Asian Studies Program., 2014)GJAA covers topics pertinent to Central, Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia, combining policy prescriptions, academic research, and pedagogical insights on Asia.