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.
A recent gaffe by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe exposes the tense relations between Japan, China, and South Korea, and "helps explain why the region seems on the brink of not one by several conflicts," says Jonathan Tepperman.
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.
President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye issued this joint declaration on May 7, 2013. The statement confirms both nations' commitment to the U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Mutual Defense Treaty, U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Joint Vision for the U.S.-ROK Alliance, and Six Party Talks with North Korea.
In their first White House meeting on Tuesday, Presidents Obama and Park will likely seek to reassert the long-standing security and economic relationship between the United States and South Korea, says CFR's Scott Snyder.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on April 12, 2013, at the American Chamber of Commerece in Seoul after his meetings with South Korean President Park and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun. He discussed economic cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the United States and nuclear issues in the region.
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.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has focused his second term in office to implementing an audacious set of economic policies designed to spur the country out of its decades-long deflation and sluggish growth, explains this Backgrounder.
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.
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