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Cheonan and Yeonpyeong: The Northeast Asian Response to North Korea’s Provocations

Authors: Scott A. Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy, and See-won Byun, George Washington University
April 2011
Royal United Services Institute

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Abstract

Divergent responses to the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 have raised tensions in Northeast Asia. China's enabling response appeared to write North Korea a blank cheque for further provocations; but Beijing has in fact been constrained by fear of destabilisation of the Kim regime. The incidents have prompted a reappraisal of bilateral relations within the region–in particular, the South Korea-US alliance–and revealed the continuing importance of the Sino-US relationship in Korean peninsular security affairs.

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