China’s Korean Policy Under Xi Jinping

Call­ing North Korea’s nuclear weapons pro­gram “an urgent nation­al secu­ri­ty threat and top for­eign pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ty,” Amer­i­can offi­cials are empha­siz­ing the crit­i­cal role of Chi­na in pres­sur­ing Pyongyang to denu­clearize. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who long crit­i­cized Chi­na for “hav­ing done lit­tle to help,” now prais­es Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping. But has China’s North Korea pol­i­cy actu­al­ly changed that dra­mat­i­cal­ly?

Wang Jianwei photoThat’s the fun­da­men­tal ques­tion Pro­fes­sor Jian­wei Wang of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Macao will take up in a brown bag sem­i­nar pre­sen­ta­tion spon­sored by the East-West Cen­ter Research Pro­gram Thurs­day, May 18, 2017. The sem­i­nar will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

Wang, who is cur­rent­ly a POSCO vis­it­ing fel­low at the East-West Cen­ter, will exam­ine the extent to which Xi Jinping’s Kore­an pol­i­cy dif­fers from the poli­cies of his pre­de­ces­sors. In par­tic­u­lar, he will look at Xi’s approach to bal­ance rela­tions with North Korea and South Korea, how his Kore­an pol­i­cy influ­ences Sino-Amer­i­can rela­tions, and the prospects of more con­se­quen­tial coop­er­a­tion between the Unit­ed States and Chi­na on North Korea?

Jian­wei Wang is a pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Gov­ern­ment and Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion and direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Glob­al and Pub­lic Affairs at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Macao. He received his Ph.D. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. His teach­ing and research focus on Sino-Amer­i­can rela­tions, Chi­nese for­eign pol­i­cy, and East Asian inter­na­tion­al rela­tions. He has pub­lished exten­sive­ly in these areas.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, con­tact Cyn­thia Nakachi ( in the East-West Cen­ter Pro­gram Office.

Sino-North Korean Relations

Kevin Gray speaks on Sino-North Korean relationsThe East-West Cen­ter Research Pro­gram will spon­sor a lunch-time brown-bag dis­cus­sion by POSCO Vis­it­ing Fel­low
Kevin Gray Tues­day, August 23, 2016. Gray’s top­ic is “Sino-North Kore­an Rela­tions and China’s North­east­ern Devel­op­ment Strat­e­gy.” The pro­gram will take place from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

Sino-North Kore­an rela­tions may seem puz­zling in that while Chi­na seeks to increase its influ­ence in glob­al eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal gov­er­nance, it nev­er­the­less con­tin­ues to pur­sue a strat­e­gy of engage­ment with North Korea despite increas­ing­ly strin­gent UN-man­dat­ed sanc­tions.

Analy­ses of China’s pol­i­cy often neglect the ongo­ing mul­ti-faceted trans­for­ma­tion of the Chi­nese state since the late 1970s along with the pro­found rescal­ing of polit­i­cal author­i­ty in Chi­na, the diver­si­fi­ca­tion of pub­lic and pri­vate actors involved in rela­tions with North Korea, and the mul­ti­ple and often con­tra­dic­to­ry goals that those actors pur­sue. Also neglect­ed is the ques­tion how the rescal­ing and decen­tral­iza­tion of polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic gov­er­nance has exac­er­bat­ed China’s uneven devel­op­ment and has raised issues of poten­tial social unrest in China’s north­east.

China’s region­al devel­op­ment projects, which have empha­sized North Korea’s role as “geo­graph­i­cal fix” to the rel­a­tive­ly iso­lat­ed provinces of the north­east have become an increas­ing­ly impor­tant vec­tor in Sino-North Kore­an rela­tions.

Gray will argue that in com­par­i­son to China’s ide­o­log­i­cal com­mit­ment to the coun­try or its per­ceived util­i­ty in China’s increas­ing­ly tense stand­off with the Unit­ed States and its allies in North­east Asia, more atten­tion needs to be paid to region­al devel­op­ment efforts in shap­ing the sub­stance of China’s rela­tions with North Korea. At the same time, he con­tends, rela­tions between the two coun­tries have become increas­ing­ly amor­phous and rid­den with con­tra­dic­tions and are, as a result, irre­ducible to any sin­gle geopo­lit­i­cal log­ic.

About Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray is a read­er in inter­na­tion­al rela­tions at the School of Glob­al Stud­ies, Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex, in the Unit­ed King­dom. He research­es North Kore­an devel­op­ment, Chi­nese-North Kore­an rela­tions, and East Asian polit­i­cal econ­o­my more broad­ly. He is the author of Kore­an Work­ers and Neolib­er­al Glob­al­i­sa­tion (Rout­ledge, 2008), Labour and Devel­op­ment in East Asia: Social Forces and Pas­sive Rev­o­lu­tion (Rout­ledge, 2015); Peo­ple Pow­er in an Era of Glob­al Cri­sis: Rebel­lion, Resis­tance, and Lib­er­a­tion, with Bar­ry K. Gills (Rout­ledge, 2012); and Ris­ing Pow­ers and the Future of Glob­al Gov­er­nance, with Craig N. Mur­phy (Rout­ledge, 2013).

Evolving Chinese Policy toward the Korean Peninsula

Quansheng ZhaoThe East-West Cen­ter Research Pro­gram will present a dis­cus­sion of Chi­nese pol­i­cy toward the two Kore­as by Pro­fes­sor Quan­sheng Zhao of Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty on Thurs­day,
Novem­ber 12, 2015, at 12:00 noon in Burns Hall 3012.

Zhao, who is cur­rent­ly a POSCO vis­it­ing fel­low at the East-West Cen­ter, will dis­cuss three approach­es that can be iden­ti­fied in Beijing’s view toward con­flict in the Kore­an penin­su­la:

  • A his­to­ry-embed­ded approach: Chi­nese for­eign pol­i­cy has tra­di­tion­al­ly been influ­enced by his­tor­i­cal lega­cies, not only over the past cou­ple of cen­turies, but also in the more recent expe­ri­ence in the Cold War.
  • A nation­al-inter­est dri­ven approach: Chi­na has grad­u­al­ly shift­ed to empha­size eco­nom­ic mod­ern­iza­tion since Deng Xiaoping’s open and reform pol­i­cy. For­eign pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ty has shift­ed to nation­al inter­ests instead of ide­ol­o­gy.
  • A co-man­age­ment approach: Enter­ing the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, China’s for­eign pol­i­cy has to cor­re­spond with its increas­ing sta­tus in glob­al pol­i­tics. The U.S. fac­tor has become even more promi­nent in China’s strate­gic cal­cu­la­tion toward the Kore­an penin­su­la. This requires Bei­jing to adopt a co-man­age­ment pol­i­cy with Wash­ing­ton, as well as oth­er region­al play­ers. The Six Par­ty Talks in the recent decade has pre­sent­ed a vivid exam­ple of co-man­age­ment, where both Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton exer­cise lead­er­ship roles ensur­ing the sta­bil­i­ty of the Korea penin­su­la.

The pre­sen­ta­tion will also offer the author’s assess­ment of Beijing’s Korea pol­i­cy, with records of both suc­cess­es and fail­ures, and its future direc­tions.

Quan­sheng Zhao is pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tion­al rela­tions and chair of the Asian Stud­ies Pro­gram Research Coun­cil at Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. A spe­cial­ist in inter­na­tion­al rela­tions and com­par­a­tive pol­i­tics focus­ing on East Asia, Zhao is the author of Inter­pret­ing Chi­nese For­eign Pol­i­cy (Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press) and Japan­ese Pol­i­cy­mak­ing (Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press/Praeger). His most recent edit­ed books are: Man­ag­ing the Chi­na Chal­lenge: Per­spec­tives from the Globe (2009) and Japan­ese For­eign Pol­i­cy and Sino-Japan­ese Rela­tions (2015). From 1993 to 2009, he was a research asso­ciate at the Fair­bank Cen­ter for East Asian Research of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, and from 1999 to 2008, he was divi­sion direc­tor of com­par­a­tive and region­al stud­ies at Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty. Zhao received his B.A. from Peking Uni­ver­si­ty and M.A. and Ph.D. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley.

A New Look at Korea’s Chinese Decade

19th-century PusanThe Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies fall 2015 col­lo­qui­um series begins on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 28, with a reex­am­i­na­tion of inter­na­tion­al rival­ries in Korea in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. His­to­ri­an Wayne Pat­ter­son will deliv­er an illus­trat­ed pre­sen­ta­tion titled “A New Look at Korea’s Chi­nese Decade: Mar­itime Cus­toms in the 1880s.” His talk begins at 4:00 p.m. in the Cen­ter con­fer­ence room.

When dis­cussing Korea’s so-called Chi­nese Decade, that is, rough­ly the dozen or so years pri­or to the Sino-Japan­ese War of 1894–95, atten­tion in the past has focused most­ly on the heavy-hand­ed activ­i­ties of Yuan Shikai in Seoul. Less well known is that part of this Chi­nese effort to bind Korea more close­ly to Chi­na involved the absorp­tion of Korea’s new­ly formed Mar­itime Cus­toms Ser­vice.

Maritime Customs agent William N. Lovatt

W.N. Lovatt

Using the recent­ly dis­cov­ered cor­re­spon­dence of William N. Lovatt, the first com­mis­sion­er of cus­toms in Pusan (1883–1886), Pat­ter­son will dis­cuss some hereto­fore unknown aspects of this attempt­ed takeover by Chi­na. Lovatt was an Eng­lish­man who had served in the British army and, after leav­ing the army, joined the Chi­nese Impe­r­i­al Mar­itime Cus­toms Ser­vice. When the Kore­an Cus­toms Ser­vice was estab­lished he took up the post in Pusan. Lovatt’s papers enable Pat­ter­son to add rich detail to our knowl­edge of events dur­ing that peri­od from a per­spec­tive away from the usu­al focus on Seoul and Yuan Shikai’s asser­tions of Chi­nese influ­ence on the gov­ern­ment of Korea.

Wayne PattersonWayne Pat­ter­son is pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at St. Nor­bert Col­lege. He is the author of In the Ser­vice of His Kore­an Majesty: William Nel­son Lovatt, the Pusan Cus­toms, and Sino-Kore­an Rela­tions, 1876–1888 (Insti­tute of East Asian Stud­ies, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, 2012) and of two books on the his­to­ry of Kore­ans in Hawai‘i—The Kore­an Fron­tier in Amer­i­ca: Immi­grants to Hawaii, 1896–1910 (1988) and The Ilse: First-Gen­er­a­tion Kore­an Immi­grants in Hawai‘i, 1903–1973 (2000), pub­lished by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Press.

The Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Mānoa cam­pus. Cen­ter events are free and open to all. Pre­sen­ta­tion of this col­lo­qui­um is sup­port­ed by the Doo Wook and Helen Nahm Choy Fund. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone (808) 956‑7041.

The China-Taiwan Relationship and Its Bearing on Korea

photo of Young-gil SongThe Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies spring col­lo­qui­um series will present a dis­cus­sion of Chi­na-Korea rela­tions by Young-gil Song on Thurs­day, April 2, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. in the Cen­ter audi­to­ri­um. Song served at the may­or of Inch’ŏn from 2010 to 2014. Pri­or to that, he was a three-term mem­ber of the Repub­lic of Korea Nation­al Assem­bly, where he served on the Leg­is­la­tion and Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee and the Finance and Econ­o­my Com­mit­tee. He also was a well-known democ­ra­cy move­ment stu­dent activist in the ear­ly 1980s.

Song is cur­rent­ly a vis­it­ing schol­ar at Tsinghua Uni­ver­si­ty of Chi­na and is con­duct­ing research on the rela­tion­ship between Chi­na and Tai­wan. His col­lo­qui­um talk is titled “The Rela­tion­ship between Chi­na and Tai­wan and Its Impli­ca­tions for the Inter-Kore­an Rela­tion­ship.”

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to the pub­lic. The Cen­ter is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the UH Mānoa cam­pus. Paid park­ing ($6.00) is avail­able in the park­ing lot mau­ka of the CKS build­ing and else­where on cam­pus. For more infor­ma­tion about park­ing, con­sult the cam­pus park­ing office Web page. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion about the col­lo­qui­um, includ­ing arrange­ments for access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041.