Fwd: China/North Korea
mstainsby at SPAMhotmail.com
Fri Nov 5 03:53:48 MST 1999
>Global Intelligence Update
>November 5, 1999
>Chinese Influence on the Rise in Pyongyang
>North Korean special units were called in to quell riots in North
>Hamgyong province in mid-October, according to reports in South
>Korean and Chinese media this week. The riots came as border
>security in North Korea and China was being tightened, and more
>attention paid to the status of North Koreans crossing the border
>illegally. With Chinese-North Korean ties generally on the mend,
>the threat of increased internal instability in North Korea may
>lead Beijing to accelerate its assistance to - and influence in -
>A riot broke out Oct. 11 in North Korea's North Hamgyong Province,
>which borders both China and Russia, according to Chinese and South
>Korean media reports published this week. North Korea mobilized an
>elite border guard unit to quash the riots, which took place near
>the northwestern border city of Onsong. The special unit responded
>with helicopters and ground forces, and followed up with a search
>operation to find the leaders of the riot and "outside impure
>North Korea has long harnessed the fear of social instability to
>gain leverage in dealings with other nations. By playing up
>outsiders' paranoia that a collapsing regime may resort to any
>measure - including launching a suicide attack on South Korea - it
>wins economic humanitarian assistance while maintaining its
>isolation. [ http://www.stratfor.com/asia/aiuarchive/a981222.htm ]
>But the riot near Onsong suggests that unrest in some outlying
>regions of the country may be near the breaking point. This does
>not mean that a general uprising against Kim Jong Il's government
>is near, but that localized dissatisfaction with the current
>economic and political situation could lead to eruptions of
>violence, requiring military intervention. Signs of instability -
>especially real, not engineered, instability - could win Korea
>support from a wary China.
>The riots came amid tightened border security by both North Korea
>and China, designed to stem the flow of illegal North Korean
>citizens seeking food and medicine across the Tumen River in China.
>While many of the North Koreans crossing into China are reportedly
>seeking refugee status, both sides oppose calling them refugees out
>of fear that granting such status would trigger a massive increase
>in the number of North Koreans crossing into China.
>The incident in Onsong seems to be isolated, at least for now.
>Potential unrest appears confined to the border areas, where
>political and ideological exiles are often sent, and news of the
>outside is easier to obtain. With North Korea increasing economic
>and social exchanges with other nations to bolster its shrinking
>economy, such internal dissatisfaction could spread.
>As North Korea balances its financial distress with the need to
>remain insulated from the rest of the world, there are other signs
>that the regime's security may be threatened. Kim Jong Il's eldest
>son, Kim Jong Nam, has taken a post in the Ministry of Public
>Security, an early step toward succeeding his father. The elder
>Kim's rise to power following his father Kim Il Sung's death was a
>slow process, marked by purges in the government ranks.
>Firmly establishing Kim Yong Nam as his successor could be an
>attempt to counter a threat against Kim Jong Il's authority.
>Placing his son in a position of public security, tasked with
>information gathering and finding dissidents, signals to both the
>citizens of North Korea and to potential opponents that the Kim
>Dynasty will continue. By emphasizing the dynastic succession
>implemented by his father, Kim Jong Il hopes to rekindle public
>affection for North Korea's leadership, which has dwindled without
>Kim Il Sung's charismatic presence.
>While the signals out of North Korea may be simply more false signs
>of imminent collapse, the unrest in the north and potential splits
>in Pyongyang suggest the precarious situation may be more than a
>carefully crafted diplomatic bargaining tool. A truly destabilized
>North Korea poses a threat not only to South Korea and the U.S.
>forces there, but also to China, Russia and possibly Japan. While
>South Korea, the United States and even to some extent Japan have
>accelerated contact with North Korea, it is China that has recently
>forged the closest ties.
>China has already been moving to strengthen relations with North
>Korea in order to regain leverage against U.S. allies in the
>region. While Beijing would benefit strategically from holding the
>leash on North Korea's belligerency, it would be threatened by an
>out-of-control North Korea. Real signs of North Korean
>disintegration could speed up moves to bring Sino-North Korean
>cooperation back to a level not seen in decades. China may even
>seek to influence or manipulate North Korea's internal politics to
>maintain the momentum of strengthening relations and guarantee
>North Korean cohesion.
>(c) 1999, Stratfor, Inc.
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