The Chinese governments seems to think that the proper response to North Korea’s attack on Yeonpyeong is to restart the six-party talks and attempt to appease Pyongyang; to its credit, the Obama administration disagrees. Canadian commentator Matt Gurney fumes:
Such nonsense has long been the Chinese response to any act, no matter how reckless, from its small, unpredictable ally. The Chinese clearly see some advantage to keeping such a bellicose regime around. The North Koreans give China a useful proxy, that can stir up trouble and drive international agendas whenever the Chinese desire it, while tying down considerable Western military assets. All Beijing must do is mouth the odd platitude about international co-operation and peace, while using its diplomatic power (including a UN Security Council veto) to insulate the North from any real consequences. North Korea’s missile tests, its illicit nuclear arms development, and now, its increasingly violent behaviour towards the South – all have been enabled, if not outright supported, by China.
Enough is enough. China will soon be a global power to rival the United States. With that might must come the maturity to act responsibly. South Korea has been pushed to the limit – over the last eight months, it has seen a warship blown out of the water in the dead of night and now, its civilians have been shelled in their own homes. If the South is pushed further, it will strike back. The danger inherent to that situation cannot be overstated. The time has come for China to either reign in its recklessly ally or cut them loose.
Until they take this necessary step to further international peace and security, the world should deny Beijing the recognition as a leading power that it so desperately craves. Propping up North Korea’s insane belligerence and being a senior partner in the geopolitical game are incompatible goals. If Beijing won’t make this decision for itself, it should be subject to the same shunning as the regime whose violence it enables.
Former State Department senior adviser Christian Whiton suggests, among other things:
President Obama should ask South Korea to place its forces on alert and order the U.S. military to present him with options for a sustained force buildup and possible retaliatory options that will show the generals in North Korea they are worse off for haven followed Kim Jong Il’s orders…
We should also talk openly to South Korea and Japan about moving U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the region. This is an appropriate response to a growing North Korean nuclear threat. It will also show the Chinese government that the misconduct of its client state also harms Beijing’s security. That, more than blind hope, will get Beijing’s attention.
While the White House hasn’t gone as far to start talking about nukes in the Pacific, the USS George Washington is headed to the Yellow Sea for joint excercises with South Korean forces. This is a show of strength that will send a message not only to North Korea but to China, which has objected to Yellow Sea joint excercises in the past.
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