China hangs North Korea out to dry: Start a war with the U.S. and you’re on your own

China hangs North Korea out to dry: Start a war with the U.S. and you’re on your own
In a recent editorial that experts call a "semiofficial" announcement, China said that should North Korea begin a fight with the U.S., then it will be fighting that battle alone. However, China also warned that if the U.S. starts the fight, China will intervene. (Getty Images)

China recently announced through a state-run newspaper that it will not come to North Korea’s aid if the communist country starts a fight with the United States, but would intervene if Washington struck first.

The announcement was made through The Global Times newspaper. According to The Washington Post, experts said the news outlet is not an official mouthpiece of China’s communist government, but does reflect government policy in the editorial for this announcement. Experts labeled The Global Times as “semiofficial,” according to The Washington Post.

In the Friday editorial, China urged both Pyongyang and Washington not to escalate the tensions between themselves, or create any more instability in the Korean Peninsula. It noted, however, that it has been unable to persuade either side to de-escalate up to this point.

Beijing said it will intervene in order to protect its own interests, if this “reckless game” is continued, and a fight breaks out that no one wants:

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.

This announcement from The Global Times answers the question of where China will stand should fighting break out. Until recently, it was not certain what Beijing would do in the event of a U.S. war with North Korea, however, this announcement may put pressure on both the U.S. and North Korea to reconsider peaceful options.

As the tension between the U.S. and North Korea continues to increase, President Donald Trump and his administration have been critical of China for their soft-handed approach in dealing with their communist allies.

On July 29, Trump blasted Beijing openly in a tweet where he expressed his disappointment in China for not doing enough to help the U.S. dissuade North Korea from their war footing despite being a massive trade partner.

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Also, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement on July 28, and laid the blame for North Korea’s swift advancements in missile technology at China’s feet.

However, China said it believed it has taken large steps to decrease tensions in the region. According to The Guardian, China’s viewed its participation in the sanctions passed by the U.N. against North Korea as a large concession. The Guardian also reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping found Trump’s threat to North Korea of “fire and fury” both unhelpful and unnecessary.

The instability in the Korean Peninsula aside, China and the U.S. are engaged in a separate conflict in the South China Sea over trade route territorial disputes.

On Thursday, the U.S. destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island China built in the area. The maneuver was part of a “freedom of navigation operation” meant to challenge China’s claim over a South China Sea trade route that Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim as theirs as well.

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