Napoleon Bonaparte said: “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” Now, of course, China has long been awakened — and all the world knows it.
However, it was Kipling who said ” East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” While Kipling was writing about India, where he was born, many believe the concept of this famous line applies throughout Asia — especially to China.
It’s likely the Chinese leadership have been and are engaged in a vigorous internal debate over what to do about North Korea — although we will never know this because most everything they do (and this is also very Chinese) is secret.
They both love and can’t believe that we don’t also operate in secret — in fact, they have depended on open Western societies for hundreds of years for economically exploitable information. They don’t look at it as stealing — they look at it as a fact of life. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently alluded to this reality in his testimony before Congress on internal technological threats to our national security.
Nevertheless, it may be possible to structure what a debate before PRC leadership on Korea might look like — and to simulate that, I call on Yin and Yang, who have traditional approaches for dealing with life’s complex issues. And, as we also know, most of their arguments fall into one category or the other, but some can fit into each.
Yin (the dark one) argues that “the situation in Korea continues to be what we want and remains consistent with our approach since the end of WWII. North Korea and the corrupt Kim regime serve as a solid buffer for us against U.S. and Japanese influence in our region — and the U.S. must spend billions of dollars to support its forces in the South and its vast naval forces in the Pacific. So, we should continue to covertly and diplomatically support the Kim regime.”
Yang (the light one) counters this, arguing: “Remember that the U.S. forces in the region are also arrayed against us. Mr. Kim is out of control and none of the options now under active consideration by the Americans are acceptable for us, and we should not care at all what Mr. Kim thinks of them — he can only pull us deeper and deeper into trouble.”
Yang continues, “just look at the reactions to Mr. Kim’s nukes and missiles in the Asia-Pacific region: Japan could become an advanced nuclear power virtually overnight if they wanted to, and they likely wouldn’t have to test in order to have a completely reliable weapon and, if they didn’t want to build their own weapons they could quickly have a “nuclear relationship” with the U.S. for a NATO-like weapon’s release arrangement. If this makes you uncomfortable, it should — we never want to deal with a militarized Japan again — nor do the Koreans.”
“If that doesn’t get your attention, how about a nuclear Taiwan — we all know that they had a nuclear weapons program at one time — they could easily start it again and could do it in secret. Next, how about a nuclear Australia? They are already talking about it and it’s not just idle banter — if they decide to do it they could become a nuclear weapons partner with the U.S. and the U.K. in a matter of months. This is not in our best interests to say the least.
“And, all of this is in reaction to Kim’s nuclear weapons and his ICBM development programs. If that were to go away so would the concerns I have outlined — especially with Japan and Australia”
Then Yang makes his final pitch, which he knows will have the most effect: “Look, we all know this is about money. The model for Korea should be Hong Kong and we know how rich we have become because of Hong Kong.
“Here’s what we have to do:
“We have to get rid of the Kim regime and their group of crazies — this will be easy enough under one pretext or another.
“Next, we have to support a reunited North and South Korea with the economic model of Hong Kong — we all know how that kind of relationship makes us lots of money.
“And, guess who pays for most of rebuilding the North and feeding its starving millions? Not us, other than for some token payments to keep the refugees out of China and pointing them South. The new United Korea pays for its own welfare and rebuilding the North — we loan them the money to do it in the North in exchange for effective and profitable control — just like in Hong Kong we get our cut.”
The Chinese leadership after listening carefully to Yin and Yang, says: “You both have made your cases very well. However, what we’re looking for are options, so we need more fully developed papers from each of you, focusing on how we take down the Kim regime and remain in control of the situation that results from it. “We really do not like the fact that we — directly and only because of Mr. Kim’s bellicosity — are now facing the reality of a quickly nuclear Japan, Australia and maybe even Taiwan and there could be others all because of Mr. Kim.
“Look, we’re all businessmen at heart — let’s get this situation back under our control and soon!”
• Daniel Gallington served as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Nuclear and Space Talks with the former Soviet Union.