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North Korea, China may be in cahoots
Paul Lin

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President Chen Shui-bian is the "Son of Taiwan." China also has sons, but they don't include Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao. Rather, they are North Korea's gang of terrorists. That is how William Safire, the well-known columnist for The New York Times, described the close relations between China and North Korea in a recent opinion article. His comments were right on the mark.

His article made the point that in the Korean War of the 1950s, China's military aid to Pyongyang prevented the US from defeating North Korea. China continued to provide aid after the war. Beijing therefore cannot "feign irrelevance." Indeed, China shed the blood of several hundred thousand soldiers of the "Chinese People's Volunteer Army" to prop up Kim Il-song's terrorist gang. It was called "a friendship sealed in blood" and the Volunteer Soldiers were called "the most lovable people." Later, China continued to provide large-scale economic assistance to prop up Kim's terrorist regime and allow him to bequeath it to his son, Kim Jong-il.

Before Kim Jong-il succeeded his father, he already had a hand in North Korea's terrorist activities. In the 1983 Rangoon bombing incident, four South Korean government ministers on a state visit to Burma were assassinated. former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan would have died as well if he hadn't been running a little late that day. In 1987, the North Korean agent Kim Hyun-hee bombed a South Korean passenger aircraft, killing 115 people. In 1978 the well-known South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi En-hui were kidnapped in Macau and taken to North Korea. Apart from these incidents, Pyongyang has been involved in everything from smuggling and selling drugs to printing counterfeit money. With this kind of behavior directed at the outside world, one can only imagine how the terrorist regime behaves toward its own people.

North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1985, but refused to allow inspection of its nuclear facilities. In 1990, the US said North Korea was very close to producing nuclear weapons. In 1994, Pyongyang signed the 1994 Framework Agreement and promised to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for international aid in the construction of two nuclear reactors used for power generation. But Pyongyang did not adhere to the agreement, and has admitted that it has continued to develop nuclear weapons all along.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, US President George W. Bush named three countries an "axis of evil," and one of them was North Korea. While the US is busy preparing for war with Iraq, Pyongyang has seized the opportunity to reactivate its nuclear reactors. It has also decided to expel UN nuclear inspectors, prompting US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to issue a warning saying that the US is capable of fighting wars on two fronts.

North Korea's intransigence is inextricably linked to the support it receives from China, without which the Pyongyang regime could not have survived the famine of recent years. That was why North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was silent when China arrested business tycoon Yang Bin after he was appointed governor of North Korea's Sinuiju Special Administrative Region. Kim was silent because of the 80 billion yuan in Chinese aid that props up the Kim dynasty. Beijing could stop Kim from playing with fire if it had the same kind of will to do so as it displayed in the case of Yang. The problem is that Beijing has always used North Korea as a bargaining chip with the US.

But by advocating a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, Beijing appears to be pressuring Pyongyang. Primarily, however, China wants to use Pyongyang's anti-US stance to highlight the importance of its own influence. Pyongyang also understands that China is not sincere toward the US. China may even have struck a tacit agreement with Pyongyang to work together to get up to mischief against the US. Otherwise, one suspects, North Korea would not have been so audacious.

During their meeting in October, Bush asked Chinese President Jiang Zemin whether Kim was a "peaceful man." Jiang's response was, "To be honest, I don't know." How could he not know, given the close ties between the two communist parties and regimes, and given China's understanding of North Korea's policies? It is absolutely necessary now for the US Congress to order the US-China Security Review Commission to investigate whether Beijing has sold nuclear materials to North Korea. The US should investigate whether China is truly opposed to terrorism. The US should look into China's attitude toward rogue states in the Middle East and, more importantly, toward North Korea. Let's see if Beijing is prepared to sacrifice one of its own for a righteous cause by taking a stand between the US and North Korea.

*Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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