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China's Influence over North Korean Nuclear Policy : Evaluating Chinese Priorities on the Korean Peninsula

Dolan, Sean (션돌런, Sogang University, Graduate School of International Studies)

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Due to China’s status as North Korea’s sole major ally and source of foreign aid, many scholars and analysts have speculated that China is in a unique position to reign in North Korea and influence the direction of its nuclear policy. Especially given China’s rising importance in the world system, t...
Due to China’s status as North Korea’s sole major ally and source of foreign aid, many scholars and analysts have speculated that China is in a unique position to reign in North Korea and influence the direction of its nuclear policy. Especially given China’s rising importance in the world system, there have been calls for China to use its leverage in order to force North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program. However, although China has publicly stated on numerous occasions that it is in favor of a denuclearized North Korea, China has done relatively little to slow the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Through an examination of four nuclear crises, this thesis attempts to show why China has been unwilling or unable to effectively stop North Korean nuclear development. This study intends to verify the hypothesis of previous scholars who state that China’s priority of maintaining the status quo on the Korean Peninsula precludes it from being able to effectively stop North Korea’s nuclear program. While China may have economic leverage over North Korea, it is unable to use this leverage to influence North Korean nuclear policy without undermining the North Korean regime and threatening China’s goal of stability. Through an analysis of four case studies of nuclear crises, this thesis demonstrates how China’s priorities on the Korean Peninsula limit its ability to influence North Korean nuclear policy. Keywords: China, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Sino-North Korean Relations