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Since China are the primary importer into NK and exporters of North Korean goods as well as the main contributer to foreign aid, what is their motivation to do that?

Why do China choose to be relatively friendly to North Korea?

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    Its a non democratic neighbor whose power is negligible (by comparison with Russia for example). As seen by the Hong Kong protests the current government of China is not leaning towards a less authoritarian rule and has an aggressive expansionist strategy (South China Sea, Doklam, Taiwan, etc.). A post-war, likely democratic, North Korea would be a political and ideological torn. Also there are some historical reasons for their alliance given the similar choice of authoritarian socialism. Russia and China supported North Korea in the Korean War. – armatita Sep 5 '17 at 11:31
  • @armatita The Taiwan-China situation is not caused by "an aggressive expansionist strategy". Have you done your research? – Will Sep 5 '17 at 14:55
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    @Will You mean its not a recent problem. True. The fact remains that Taiwan is an independent nation (for several decades now) not recognized by most countries because they want to continue doing trade with China. So let me put it in another way. I consider an agressive strategy of China not to officially recognize Taiwan independence even if they already are for all intents and purposes for the last 70 years. From the Chinese point of view Taiwan is a province. If that is not agressive, what is? – armatita Sep 5 '17 at 15:16
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    @armatita Republic of China (or Taiwan as you may call it) claims mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as parts of its territories (according to their constitution). Taiwan has never ever been a sovereignty or independent nation, so for either China (ROC or PRC), Taiwan is, de facto, a province. – Will Sep 5 '17 at 15:35
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China likes a barrier between US-allied territory and itself. Before North Korea was the nuclear threat it is today, it was the barrier that the Chinese government wanted.

And I think that China believes that they can make North Korea back into the (somewhat) peaceful 'barrier' if they keep giving them aid and buying stuff from them. Or at least they believe that North Korea won't attack them if they stay 'relatively friendly'.

China may also see solidarity with North Korea regarding shared hardships that both of them have gone through, such as WWII Japanese occupation, or US embargoes during their socialism days.

Another possible reason is that apparently China is fearful of refugees fleeing North Korea and going into China if the Kim regime falls. In that regard, they'd rather preserve the status quo, though they'd definitely rather turn North Korea into the 'barrier' again.

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    Same reason why Russia freaks out when NATO talks about Poland or Ukraine joining the club, or the USA with Cuba as a potential Soviet Union base in the 1960s. Physical/geographic buffers with perceived enemies = good. – PoloHoleSet Sep 6 '17 at 13:32
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It is as simple as in the relations of the enemy of the enemy.

Looking back at the Korean War, it is not difficult to find the war might have been extended to China if it had not been limited in North Korea. That is the reason China began their assistance to that country. Then came the Cold War, when communist (socialist) countries and capitalist countries formed their respective blocs, and since North Korea and China are self-claimed socialist countries, they have to bond together to establish their images to the world.

In today's China, young people who are influenced by western cultures not less than those who live in the west do not like North Korea as does their own government. And time and again China has felt the small neighbor is out of its control. Kim Jung Un hasn't even paid a visit to China since he came into power 5 years ago, and the distance of the two countries is so close.It is obvious that he does not respect China but that China has no other better approach for the time being to handle this country than maintain the existing relationship.

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