Chinese officials see stability on the Korean peninsula under the Korean Armistice as a component that has enabled China's growth for over three decades. Despite a growing difference between the economic systems of China and North Korea, China's communist party leadership feels an affinity with North Korea because its government, like China's, pursues one-party leadership under a socialist banner.
Escalating tensions on the peninsula due to North Korea's recent provocations motivate Presidents Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye to closely coordinate policies toward the North. However, Beijing's shifty stance on sanctions, an increase in Sino-DPRK economic exchanges, and the obstacles to China-South Korea-Japan trilateral cooperation impede North Korea policy alignment between Beijing and Seoul. Still, the willingness of both leaders to improve bilateral relations offers a silver lining, explain CFR's Scott Snyder and See-won Byun of George Washington University.
North Korea, formally called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), remains a top security concern for the United States, despite its moribund economy. The DPRK poses a serious potential military threat to its neighbors and to U.S. military bases and allies in the Pacific.
Some argue that the best way to restrain North Korea is to strengthen sanctions, principally by putting more pressure on China to reduce its trade with North Korea. Others advocate a diplomatic approach and argue that engagement, not escalation, would be more effective. What all parties need to remember is that actions speak louder than words.
North Korea's ratcheting up of tensions requires South Korean and U.S. military forces in Korea to be prepared to defend against North Korean military incursions. Resumption of diplomacy will only be possible when North Korea signals it is ready to resume dialogue and all parties agree on an agenda that includes both tension-reduction and denuclearization.
Former prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd discusses the ongoing situation surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons program and the future of U.S.-China relations with Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman.
The Six-Party Talks serve as a forum for the denuclearization of North Korea, but analysts say the negotiations have been hindered by Pyongyang's belligerence and the shifting priorities of participating nations.
The UN Security Council passed this resolution including economic sanctions on North Korea on March 7, 2013, after North Korea's nuclear test on February 12, 2013. North Korea said it will end its armistice agreement with South Korea if the resolution passed.
North Korean Supreme Command of the Korean Army released this statement on March 5, 2013, saying that North Korea will no longer recognize the Korean Armistice Agreement if the UN Security Council passed a resolution and sanctions against North Korea after its February nuclear test.
North Korea's third successful nuclear test has been widely condemned by the international community. CFR's Paul Stares highlights three things to know about the test and its implications for nuclear nonproliferation.
Secretary John Kerry and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave these remarks before their meeting on February 14, 2013. They outlined the main issues they would discuss: North Korea's nuclear test and Six Party Talks, negotiations with Iran, the crisis in Syria, and France's intervention in Mali.
"The complex evolution of the Obama administration's policy toward North Korea during its first term and the characteristics of President Obama's world view together provide a framework for considering what the administration is likely to do in a second term," says Scott A. Snyder.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.