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Kong, Tat Yan (2018) 'China's Engagement-Oriented Strategy Towards North Korea: Achievements and Limitations.' The Pacific Review, 31 (1). pp. 76-95.

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n response to the challenge of unstable North Korea (weak economy, weapons of mass destruction [WMD] development), China has followed an engagement-oriented strategy based on diplomatic persuasion, economic interaction and moderate economic sanctions. Intensified engagement (2009–2012) facilitated North Korean convergence with China in respect of economic reform but divergence has persisted over WMD development. Despite the widening of divergence since 2013, China has refrained from applying crippling sanctions. This article seeks to explain these diverging results and their implications for China's strategy towards North Korea. Reviewing recent literature and data, it will argue that Chinese economic input reinforced the trend of economic reform that formed the basis of political consolidation under the new hereditary regime. On the other hand, the prospect of stable dependence on China ran counter to that regime's pursuit of WMDs as the basis of security and diplomatic diversification. These mixed results reveal the limits of China's strategy: its economic input involuntarily reinforces North Korea's WMD potential but it is not prepared to accept the risks of enforcing WMD restraint by crippling sanctions either. With limited room for manoeuvre, the attainment of China's strategic objectives ultimately depends upon policy change from the US or South Korea.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Denuclearisation, ‘parallel advance’, marketisation, mono-transition, ‘strategic patience’
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
ISSN: 14701332
Copyright Statement: © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Pacific Review on 27 Apr 2017, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2017 09:38

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