Colombia and Ireland

George Pennefather poseidon at
Tue Oct 26 00:20:02 MDT 1999

>Kuwait Focus Reveals Dwindling Gulf Support
>Ukrainian, Georgian Elections May Redirect Policy
>Wahid to Use Navy For Internal Concerns
>Global Intelligence Update
>October 26, 1999
>China Resurrects "Lips and Teeth" Metaphor
>General Fu Quanyou, China's chief of general staff of the
>People's Liberation Army (PLA), resurrected the traditional phrase
>"as close as lips and teeth" in describing relations between China
>and North Korea on Oct. 22. Fu was speaking at the North Korean
>Embassy in Beijing on the 49th anniversary of China's participation
>in the Korean War. The resurfacing of the lips and teeth metaphor,
>used widely before China's decision to formalize ties with South
>Korea in 1992, is, in part, an economic tactic aimed at increasing
>foreign investment in China without loosening economic controls.
>On Oct. 22, General Fu Quanyou, chief of general staff of China's
>People's Liberation Army (PLA), resurrected the Cold War metaphor
>used to describe relations between the two nations. Speaking at the
>North Korean Embassy in Beijing on the 49th anniversary of China's
>participation in the Korean War, Fu referred to ties between China
>and North Korea as being "as close as lips and teeth." Fu's remark
>comes amid a general rebuilding of the friendship between the two
>nations, which deteriorated during China's economic opening and
>reform in the early 1990s. The reversion to the terminology of pre-
>economic reform China, coupled with China's apparent backtracking
>on economic opening, suggests that Beijing may be re-evaluating its
>foreign policy.
>If Fu had made the comment 10 years ago, it would have aroused
>little attention. After the Korean War, the nations talked of ties
>sealed with blood and described their nations "as close as lips and
>teeth." However, in the early 1990s, with the process of economic
>opening in China overpowering traditional ideological ties between
>the nations, the phrase began to fade. Then, when China established
>diplomatic ties with South Korea in 1992, relations between China
>and North Korea began a steep decline. The "lips and teeth"
>description, while not entirely abandoned, has been widely avoided
>by Beijing for years.
>China's pull away from North Korea was tied to its search for
>economic investment. A perceived connection with the reclusive and
>unpredictable North, it was feared, would scare away potential
>investors. Establishing formal ties with South Korea demonstrated
>that Beijing was placing a higher priority on economics than on
>ideology and relations with the North.
>During the past year, however, ties between North Korea and China
>have been warming. Simultaneously, China has been struggling to
>deal with internal instability triggered by financial stresses
>brought on by the economic reform process. Under President Jiang
>Zemin, China has taken a strong interest in maintaining social
>stability, even at the cost of economic reform. This in turn has
>threatened foreign investments in China, as it continues to close
>off or tightly regulate desirable areas of investment.
>Such economic concerns may be at least partially instigating the
>reconnection between China and North Korea. While Fu's
>resurrection of the metaphor - made during a commemoration of
>China's support of the North during the Korean War - reawakens the
>old fear of China holding North Korea's leash, more likely Beijing
>will attempt to use the threat engendered by such fears as an
>economic bargaining chip.
>By taking on a closer relationship to North Korea, China becomes a
>vital path for relaying concerns to the North. This, in turn, gives
>China leverage with nations like Japan and the United States, as
>well as South Korea. Already, China has gained economic concessions
>from Japan due in part to its influence with North Korea
>( ).
>Relations between China and North Korea have not returned to the
>warmth of the 1950s, nor are they likely to do so. However,
>restoring relations gives China an important tool for dealing with
>the United States, Japan and South Korea. These countries, all of
>which have strategic interests in North Korea and China, represent
>large quantities of potential investment capital for China. By
>combining the strategic importance of North Korea and the economic
>interests of China, the return of a "lips and teeth" relationship
>may be part of an aggressive Chinese policy aimed at continuing to
>receive foreign capital without having to grant concessions to
>(c) 1999, Stratfor, Inc.

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