The events on the Korean peninsula don’t take place in a vacuum; they are influenced by the great powers that have a stake in the region. The People’s Republic of China, in particular, makes its weight felt: it is the largest trade partner of both Korean states and considered by many to be the linchpin in the international disputes surrounding North Korea. But while China has long been reluctant to put pressure on Pyongyang, recent developments in the North Korean nuclear program have seemingly led it to reconsider its position.
To better understand China’s foreign policy since Xi Jinping became President more than three years ago and its position with regards to North Korea, we had the honor of meeting with Bonnie S. Glaser. She spoke to us about the growing assertiveness of China in international affairs, the role its President plays in these changes, China’s perception of North Korea, and the future prospects for the region.
Bonnie S. Glaser is a senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Previously, she served as a consultant for various U.S. government offices, including the Departments of Defense and State. Her writings have been published various in academic journals and newspapers, including the China Quarterly, Asian Survey, and International Security as well as in The New York Times. Bonnie Glaser received her B.A. in political science from Boston University and her M.A. with concentrations in international economics and Chinese studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
I do think Xi Jinping is running out of patience with North Korea. There is continuing assistance, of course, that goes from China to North Korea, this has gone on for many, many years. […] I think that Xi Jinping expects that North Korea, in return, will respect Chinese interests […] and, again, show deference to China. Kim Jong-un has not done that — in fact, what Kim Jong-un has done, from China’s perspective, is just simply be defiant. […] There were some sharp words that Hu Jintao used after the very first nuclear test of 2006. But Hu Jintao was not willing to support the really tough sanctions on the North Korean economy, and so this is the major departure under Xi Jinping.
The interview was recorded on April 28th in Seoul.