Following the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island by North Korea, the international community condemned North Korea for this reckless, unprovoked attack, but Beijing merely expressed concern over the incident.
The failure to condemn the North Korean attack is part of Beijing’s strategy to use the attack to gain an advantage over the United States, analysts say. The Chinese regime seeks to force the United States to the negotiation table where it would seek concessions, in particular on exchange rates.
The deadly 2 hour, 10 minute, Nov. 23 artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island is the latest in a string of provocations by the North.
North Korea fired more than 100 artillery shells at the South Korean island causing four deaths and 20 injuries. Most of the island’s 1,600 residents were evacuated to bunkers.
South Korea’s military retaliated about 10 minutes after the initial attack, deploying fighter jets and firing shells toward the North Korean artillery base on the west coast. The exchange was the most severe border conflict between the two Koreas since the Korean War in the 1950s.
Chinese Regime’s Response
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China is concerned about the report of the incident and is paying close attention, but the specific details still need to be verified.
Comments published on major media in China perhaps revealed more about the Chinese regime’s viewpoint than the official reaction by the Foreign Ministry. All media in China are either run by the state or, while nominally independent, are only allowed to publish if they follow the state’s line on important issues.
Sina.com, People’s Daily.com, and over 20,000 websites in China refused to blame North Korea for the attack, reporting that “Both Koreas accuse each other of being the first to have opened fire.”
Sina.com raised the issue of negotiations with the United States: “This bombardment of the island could be North Korea’s attempt to force the United States to the negotiation table.”
Chinanews.com, military.people.com, and 200 other websites published a not-so-veiled threat if the hoped-for negotiations didn’t materialize: “If the artillery attack still cannot force the United States and the international community to value North Korea’s demands, the situation on the Korean peninsula could become dangerous.”
North Korean and Chinese Regimes Allied
The North Korean attack came right before the U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth was planning to visit the region regarding North Korea’s uranium enrichment project. After the attack Bosworth’s travel schedule and focus will likely be significantly altered. Bosworth recently visited Japan and then proceeded on to China.
Analysts do not believe North Korea’s unprovoked attack on the South is a prelude to war. While tensions have now risen, North Korea does not have the strength to wage war, these analysts say.
Instead, they see this attack as part of an elaborate blackmail-type scheme hatched by Beijing in league with North Korea to force the United States to the bargaining table. In order to gain Beijing’s help in “controlling” North Korea, the thinking goes, the United States would be expected to make concessions.
Sun Yanjun, a former professor at Beijing Normal University and a China affairs expert who writes regularly for The Epoch Times, said, “From my view of the relationship between China, North Korea, and South Korea, the regimes in China and North Korea are military partners, so it is very unlikely that this move came from the motive of North Korea alone.
“The regimes in China and North Korea are currently going through very hard times; they have no other cards to play. They must maintain this tension so they can bargain with the international community.
“The regime in China is currently under a lot of international pressure, including the exchange rate issue and also various internal pressures. It is looking for a way out, to divert the internal conflicts and international pressure.
“The recent Diaoyu Island issue [with Japan] is also an attempt of looking for a way out. But the regimes in China and North Korea are not ready for a war, especially China is not ready,” Sun said.
A senior media person from Taiwan by the last name Zeng told The Epoch Times in a phone interview, he believes this provocative attack was a deceptive act jointly deployed by the Chinese and North Korean regimes.
“The United States is very tired from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. If another conflict started in North Korea, the United States would want China to pacify North Korea and try to not cause international turmoil.
“At that time, China can come forward and gain this bargaining chip which can be used to make demands of the United States, such as to stop the pressure for appreciation of the yuan,” Zeng said.
“The regime in China often uses this strategy of using North Korea to divert attention. This method has been used countless times in the past. One can look back and find that whenever a situation arises in North Korea, the United States has to negotiate with China,” Zeng said.
For the past several decades, China has been the lifeline of its impoverished North Korean communist ally. According to a May 2009 report by Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, China is the supplier of 80 percent of crude oil and consumer goods to North Korea.
Read the original Chinese article.