A turbulent triangle: Beijing, Seoul, and Pyongyang | Matthias von Hein
Beijing’s relations to North and South Korea are a clear example that theory does not necessarily go hand in hand with practice. In theory, North Korea is supposed to be China’s closest ally. Over 50 years ago, both countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, thus committing themselves to defending one another in the case of conflict.
But in practice, China has had a troublesome relationship with its wayward “little brother,” especially after Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test in February, despite Beijing urging it not to.
Since Kim Jong Un assumed power at the end of 2011, no foreign leader has so far visited North Korea
This prompted China to vote in favor of a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s actions and imposing sanctions against its regime. Pyongyang’s execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek - who was China’s most important contact among the North’s ruling elite - has further strained the relationship.
This development stands in stark contrast to Beijing’s relations to South Korea, which normalized in 1992. In a little more than two decades, South Korea has become China’s third-largest trading partner. One fourth of Seoul’s exports go to China, making it the country’s biggest trading partner. While bilateral trade stands at around 230 billion USD, South Korea currently enjoys a hefty trade surplus of some 60 billion USD.
FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)