It was Mao Zedong who said the Chinese and North Koreans were so closely allied the countries were “Like lips and teeth.”
But for some time, the two countries don’t seem to be speaking the same language.
The fact of the matter is that the North Koreans have antagonized the country that regards itself essentially as North Korea’s master, much as Putin regards Ukraine as part of the Russian sphere of hegemony.
The Chinese regard the North Koreans with suspicion as ingrates and as possibly uncontrollable. The relationship between the two countries has often been stretched thin by North Korea’s aggressive stances toward its neighbors, including South Korea and Japan; its barbaric disregard of human rights exceeding even China’s bad record; and its zany idolatry of a succession of 3 hereditary leaders whose demands for worship from the masses top even the late Mao Zedong’s demand for adoration from his blue-uniformed citizens.
North Korea is Mao Zedong’s China on speed: brutal, demanding complete conformity to communist ideology, and in the thrall of a messianic and tyrannical dynasty. Now the country is rapidly outpacing the Chinese leadership’s ability to contain its renegade behavior, especially as the recklessness of the family dynasty seems to increase under each successive generation.
There are increasing hints that China may have had enough and is preparing for an intervention against its toxic protégé.
According to a Telegraph report by Julian Ryall, China has leaked information about contingency plans, should the North Korean regime currently led by Kim Jong Un “collapse” and civil war ensue.
Documents drawn up by planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army that were leaked to Japanese media include proposals for detaining key North Korean leaders and the creation of refugee camps on the Chinese side of the frontier in the event of an outbreak of civil unrest in the secretive state. The report calls for stepping up monitoring of China’s 879-mile border with North Korea. [...] According to Kyodo News, the Chinese report says key North Korean leaders should be detained in special camps where they can be monitored, but also prevented from directing further military operation or taking part in actions that could be damaging to China’s national interest.
Knowing China’s tendency to word matters in veiled, if not sometimes inscrutably oblique diplomatic language, it may be that China is actively planning a coup against Kim Jong Un, or at least sensing one may be necessary. The deranged Kim, who is so obsessed with himself that there are even reports that he wants every N. Korean male to have the same haircut as his, and who is accused of having his uncle devoured by dogs, may be rocketing out of control.
Chinese leadership, shrewd and savvy, surely does not think North Korea will collapse on its own, plunging into civil war while the humanitarian Chinese kindly prepare for the influx of millions of refugees. On the contrary, North Korean refugees infiltrating China are routinely sent back to face the wrath of Kim Jong Un’s regime. So it can be fairly assumed the Chinese are not moved by tender regard for possible influx of homeless North Koreans.
Nor can it be assumed that Chinese leadership is interested in the protection of North Korea’s military leadership, which it supposedly and humanely wishes to detain in “special camps” to prevent them from “directing further military actions.” Detaining another country’s military leaders for any reason sounds suspiciously like a coup. Such an action, aided and abetted by China, may be imminent. It can be taken pretty much for granted that Kim Jong Un himself would be the first official needing detaining -- for his own protection, of course.
Nor can we disregard the possibility that North Korean leadership has made plans to attack South Korea -- plans China has discovered. Ever since the end of the Korean War and the establishment in 1953 of the boundaries between North and South Korea at the 38th parallel, North Korea has pined for and dreamed of the day it will forcibly unite the Korean peninsula and drive out what it sees as pernicious Western influence. An envious longing for the riches and resources of South Korea is doubtless among the factors that has driven North Korea’s aggressive stance toward its southern neighbor.
Nor is the brutal occupation of Korea by the Japanese (1910-1945), who tried to eradicate Korean heritage -- including the Korean language and culture -- forgotten by the North Koreans in particular. The present composition of North Korean leadership has a vested interest in whipping up paranoia and thirst for revenge against Japan. North Korea has provocatively fired rockets toward Japan. This is to say nothing of the country’s continual threats to start a nuclear war against its enemies, including South Korea.
Something very significantly troubling has happened to cause China to warn the world about impending collapse and chaos in North Korea and to inform the world of China’s contingency plans. Whatever form those plans ultimately take, China is letting the rest of the world know matters are at a breaking point with N. Korea, as the country is increasingly an embarrassment to China as well as a threat to Chinese control.
North Korea’s leaders, as well as the entire global community, have been put on notice that China is fed up.
I would wonder, as well, if Obama and Kerry are not courting the Chinese in this regard toward North Korea, as well. It would make sense as North Korea is not going to want to mess with China, either.