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Title: China’s Strategic Interests in East Asia and its Responses to the North Korean Nuclear Crises
Authors: Wang, Anne-Claire
Advisors: Christensen, Thomas
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: As North Korea continues to defy the world with missile and nuclear tests, the US has been calling China to take a tougher stance on its long-time ally and to exert more political and economic pressure on North Korea. China has had a long and complex history with North Korea that illustrates the fact that their alliance is not based on ideological closeness or trust, but on North Korea’s ability to appeal to Chinese strategic interests. Since 2003, China has taken steps toward international cooperation on the North Korean nuclear issue, through participation in the UN and the Six Party Talks. It has demonstrated an increasing willingness to express public condemnations of North Korean actions. However, China has continued to oppose proposals for stronger economic sanctions and to trade with North Korea. This thesis explores Chinese and American reactions to the North Korean nuclear activities, especially in the aftermath of the 2006, 2009 and 2013 nuclear tests, and tries to explain China’s decisions through its strategic priorities and interests in the region, especially China’s expressed desire for peace and stability and an environment conducive to sustainable economic development. China’s strategic interests in the region would suffer from a North Korean regime collapse. North Korea is aware of China’s interests in the stability of the regime and has been able to manipulate its more powerful neighbor by using its own economic dependency on China to force it to continue to provide economic assistance. China’s strategic calculations also influence the extent to which it is willing to cooperate with the US and the international community regarding North Korea, and explain the variations in Chinese behavior following the nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Despite the fact that China shares with the US an interest in North Korean denuclearization, its priority is still in maintaining regime stability, which mean that China is only willing to cooperate when US actions do not threaten the stability of the North Korean regime. When American and South Korean strategy toward North Korea is perceived to be too aggressive, China will react negatively and be forced to support North Korea. At the same time, China wary of US, South Korean or Japanese military buildup and increased military activities, and this can also influence China’s attitude and lead to increased dialogue and cooperation from China.
Extent: 84 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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