- China’s long-term strategic interests require a denuclearized North Korea
- Historical reasons for the two countries’ alliance no longer exist
- A unified Korean state could try to retain the North’s nuclear stockpile
With tension mounting on the Korean Peninsula over Pyongyang’s tests of weapons of mass destruction and the question of the regime’s ultimate intentions, the strategic issues confronting China are coming to the fore. North Korea’s nuclear program creates more long-term challenges for Beijing than it does for any other power.
For the time being, Beijing acts as though it believes it can achieve North Korea’s denuclearization through political maneuvering. But if China ever opts for a military solution, its leaders may first try to create a situation in which the United States carries out the first strike against Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities.