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Korea and China

A young Viet­namese man pulled out his phone and asked me if I knew about what was hap­pen­ing in Korea.

He passed the device to me where the pres­i­dents of North Korea and South Korea were meet­ing on the bor­der between the two countries.

I feel a lot safer now than I did a few min­utes ago,” he told me in Lhasa, Tibet.

DaTech3.jpgFor many peo­ple, North Korean Pres­i­dent Kim Jong-​un is like the crazy uncle who you only see dur­ing the hol­i­days. But many like the young Viet­namese man, Kim has loomed over the safety of the region.

Iron­i­cally, the Chi­nese press has spent lit­tle time talk­ing about what other coun­tries have labelled an impor­tant breakthrough.

In fact, Xin­hua, the offi­cial gov­ern­ment news agency, put the con­clu­sion of a regional gov­ern­ment con­fer­ence as the lead story, with Korea down the list of news events. That story reported on the elim­i­na­tion of loud­speak­ers spout­ing pro­pa­ganda from South Korea along the bor­der, with a note that the Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter plans a visit to North Korea.

More impor­tant, The South China Morn­ing Post, a some­what inde­pen­dent news orga­ni­za­tion in Hong Kong, posed an awk­ward head­line: “China could be excluded from peace talks.”

Zhang Lian­gui, a spe­cial­ist on Korea at the Cen­tral Party School, which trains Com­mu­nist Party offi­cials, said Beijing’s pol­icy on North Korea in recent years could see it excluded from the peace process.

The stance of China’s for­eign min­istry has been that [the North Korean nuclear cri­sis] is none of its busi­ness and that North Korea and the U.S. should be com­mu­ni­cat­ing directly,” Zhang told The Post. “So now things are out of China’s con­trol, and it is no sur­prise that it is being excluded from the discussions.”

A senior diplo­mat in Seoul told The South China Morn­ing Post that both Koreas wanted to dilute Beijing’s influ­ence over the peninsula.

It’s rather ironic since the Korean War was essen­tially a bat­tle between China and the United States for influ­ence in the region. More­over, China was a sig­na­tory to the armistice that ended the war in 1953.

What­ever the case, those who live near North Korea breathed a sig­nif­i­cant sigh of relief when the two sides of the Korean con­flict met for the first time in more than a decade.

A young Vietnamese man pulled out his phone and asked me if I knew about what was happening in Korea.

He passed the device to me where the presidents of North Korea and South Korea were meeting on the border between the two countries.

“I feel a lot safer now than I did a few minutes ago,” he told me in Lhasa, Tibet.

DaTech3.jpgFor many people, North Korean President Kim Jong-un is like the crazy uncle who you only see during the holidays. But many like the young Vietnamese man, Kim has loomed over the safety of the region.

Ironically, the Chinese press has spent little time talking about what other countries have labelled an important breakthrough.

In fact, Xinhua, the official government news agency, put the conclusion of a regional government conference as the lead story, with Korea down the list of news events. That story reported on the elimination of loudspeakers spouting propaganda from South Korea along the border, with a note that the Chinese foreign minister plans a visit to North Korea.

More important, The South China Morning Post, a somewhat independent news organization in Hong Kong, posed an awkward headline: “China could be excluded from peace talks.”

Zhang Liangui, a specialist on Korea at the Central Party School, which trains Communist Party officials, said Beijing’s policy on North Korea in recent years could see it excluded from the peace process.

“The stance of China’s foreign ministry has been that [the North Korean nuclear crisis] is none of its business and that North Korea and the U.S. should be communicating directly,” Zhang told The Post. “So now things are out of China’s control, and it is no surprise that it is being excluded from the discussions.”

A senior diplomat in Seoul told The South China Morning Post that both Koreas wanted to dilute Beijing’s influence over the peninsula.

It’s rather ironic since the Korean War was essentially a battle between China and the United States for influence in the region. Moreover, China was a signatory to the armistice that ended the war in 1953.

Whatever the case, those who live near North Korea breathed a significant sigh of relief when the two sides of the Korean conflict met for the first time in more than a decade.