Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 9 News List

China is the genuine victor in any deal with the North Koreans

By Sushil Seth

With the US mired in Iraq and confrontation with Iran looming, Washington is going to become even more dependent on Beijing in dealing with Pyongyang.

In other words, China will have the leeway to continue promoting and projecting its own political and strategic interests (often to the detriment of the US), knowing that Washington needs its goodwill in dealing with North Korea in particular, as well as other issues like terrorism and the Middle East in general.

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A case in point is China's recent adventure to knock out one of its aging satellites in the first move toward a space war scenario. The US has tended to almost ignore this development that is likely to challenge US supremacy. Beijing has indeed gleefully accepted its new status by declaring China a willing partner in any international talks to prevent an arms race in space.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said: "Since other countries care about this question [of China testing an anti-satellite missile] and are opposed to [the militarization] of space and an arms race in space, let us join hands to realize this goal."

With Washington preoccupied, Beijing is having a field day maximizing its influence. If this continues, Beijing will come to acquire a form of veto on many aspects of US foreign policy, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

On the North Korean deal, for instance, Japan is reported to be upset that China and the US cobbled together the tentative agreement by ignoring the sensitive issue of abduction of Japanese by North Korea in the late 1970s and 1980s.

No wonder Wang Jisi, in his Foreign Affairs article, is hoping that the six-party talks on North Korea might develop "into a permanent Northeast security arrangement," enabling China to keep up pressure on the US.

Sushil Seth is a writer based in Australia.

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