Monday, November 10, 2003

NORTH KOREA AND CHINA FIRM UP ALLIANCE. So argues Jaewoo Choo.The recent visit to Pyongyang by Beijing's Number 2 man resulted in the reiteration of previous PRC policy:
Wu himself said his visit had two purposes, one being to return the courtesy of the two visits Kim has made to China recently. The other purpose can be found in Wu's expounding of former president Jiang Zemin's famous 16-character guideline to bilateral relations iterated during his last visit to Pyongyang three years ago, that is, jicheng chuantong, mianxian weilai, mulin youhao, and jiaqiang hezuo (inheriting traditions, facing the future, good-neighborliness, and strengthening cooperation). Under the Chinese tradition of reiterating a paramount leader's rhetoric or philosophy (if we are allowed to describe Jiang as a paramount leader), Wu thereby once again tried to confirm China's strategic relations with Korea.
One question this historian asks is "which 'traditions'"? The tradition of distance and non-interference that characterized Ming and Qing China's relations with Choson Korea for most of its more than 500 years? Or the much more involved and interventionist tradition of the late 19th century and again in 1950? It is clear which tradition the "Korea First" Chuch'e crowd in Pyongyang would prefer. But weaker powers don't always get to choose the terms of their interactions with their stronger neighbors.

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