Friday, August 04, 2006

North Korea

The missiles have been test-fired and the UN Resolution has passed - North Korea is the bad guy. Japan pushed for a hard response and got fairly close to what it wanted. US supported the tough response option and sanctions are being imposed. South Korea did not support such a move but it did cut off aid (although not emergency relief aid). And China went along with the resolution and all. But such a stance of (semi) unity is bound to be temporary.

Enter the floods that have reportedly devastated North Korea (again). China supported the UN Resolution in the end and, it turns out, they also froze North Korean assets last year. This might suggest that China is tiring of North Korea's antics. And to some extent that is probably true. After all, China's own interests will always trump North Koreas. However, just because China may not always help/aid/defend North Korea, doesn't mean they are siding with the US. While China might be willing to crack down occasionally, the recent floods are not likely to be ignored by China.It is in China's interest that North Korean victims of the floods do not try to escape into China. Preventing such an outcome would mean providing more assistance and more support to the regime's survival. 'Wave of refugeess' trumps 'frozen assets' in terms of things you don't want to happen to your nation.

In fact, the recent floods may well reposition North Korea's image back to "humanitarian crisis" from "nuclear desperado" and lead to a more vocal role for civil and humanitarian groups.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui