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Chinese Politics and the Korean Peninsula
Published June 8, 2012
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Leadership has great bearing on the way the states active in Northeast Asia address sensitive questions related to the Korean peninsula. How should the shared goal of denuclearization of North Korea be prioritized relative to such goals as stability and the regional balance of power? What weight should be given to human rights in the context of urgent security concerns? To what extent should the multilateral nature of diplomacy override the expression of national policy priorities? How closely is coordination with South Korea advisable, recognizing its legitimacy to represent the Korean people, given divergence in threat perceptions and strategic thinking about the future of the peninsula? These questions asked about the other states in the Six-Party process apply also to Chinese politics. Despite the fact that Chinese decision-making remains opaque with censorship tightening of late, some clues are available to offer insight into how the transition to fifth generation leadership bears on strategic thinking regarding the Korean peninsula, toward both North Korea celebrating in 2012 its success as a “strong and prosperous power” and South Korea voting in 2012 for a conservative or a progressive.

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