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China Considers Regime Change in North Korea Visit the Site

Matter-Eater Lad

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October 17, 2006

How Unhappy Are The Chinese?


Apparently, Kim Jong-Il's nuclear surprise last week didn't just upset the various democracies in the Pacific. The Australian reported yesterday that Beijing has begun to consider a move that would have outraged the world fifteen years ago, but which might get tacit support now that North Korea has gone nuclear:


THE Chinese are openly debating "regime change" in Pyongyang after last week's nuclear test by their confrontational neighbour.


Diplomats in Beijing said at the weekend that China and all the major US allies believed North Korea's claim that it had detonated a nuclear device. US director of national intelligence John Negroponte circulated a report that radiation had been detected at a site not far from the Chinese border. ...


The balance of risk between reform and chaos dominated arguments within China's ruling elite. The Chinese have also permitted an astonishing range of vituperative internet comment about an ally with which Beijing maintains a treaty of friendship and co-operation. Academic Wu Jianguo published an article in a Singapore newspaper - available online in China - bluntly saying: "I suggest China should make an end of Kim's Government."


"The Chinese have given up on Kim Jong-il," commented one diplomat. "The question is, what are they going to do about it?"


They may decide to throw their weight behind the reformists that Kim fears most. Beijing has information on a budding reform movement, one that would replace the personality cult of the "royal family" with an authoritarian but rational government based on post-Communist states in Eastern Europe, especially Romania. These reformers, considered Sinophiles by the Chinese, would bring stability to the region and allow for the economic growth that would stem the flow of refugees into China.


In fact, the Chinese have begun talking about three attempted coup d'etats that Kim weathered between 1996-9. Two of the three attempts involved the DPRK Army, and the third involved two government ministries. One of the Army revolts came in reaction to the famine that killed more than a million Koreans in the North. Up to now, Beijing has appeared content with the devil they know rather than the devil they don't. Now that their devil has grown nuclear horns -- and may be inspiring more of the same from South Korea and Japan -- the Chinese government may decide to throw the dice on a different ruling class.


It's not just the Chinese hedging their bets, either. The Australian notes that Chinese real-estate agents have reported a suddenly booming business in Wang Jing from North Korean officials looking for alternate housing. It appears that the rats have begun to leave the ship, or at the least have begun practicing their diving technique.


It's this last dynamic that might press China into ending Kim's regime. They cannot afford to allow the DPRK to suddenly collapse. They might "invite" Kim and his family to leave Pyongyang; his eldest son already lives in exile in Beijing. Failing that, they may work with the Sinophiles to succeed where the Koreans could not in the late '90s. Kim, who already fears the Ceaucescu treatment, might want to make travel plans soon.

Posted by Captain Ed at October 17, 2006 05:30 AM



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