News / USA

North Korea Tops Kerry's Asia Agenda

North Koreans attend a rally against the United States and South Korea in Nampo, April 3, 2013.
North Koreans attend a rally against the United States and South Korea in Nampo, April 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before their meeting in Washington, April 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Asia next week for talks on how best to deal with an increasingly aggressive North Korea. China once again has a central role in approaching the reclusive state.

For all of what he calls North Korea's "dangerous and reckless" threats, Kerry said Pyongyang can still negotiate its way out of international isolation over its nuclear program.

"They can come back to the table and join all of those other countries, including their nearest neighbor and partner China. Obviously they share nearest-neighbor [status] with the Republic of Korea, but China which has such an important role to play and which has always maintained a closer relationship to the North than any other country," he said.

It is that relationship that has long made China key to U.S. efforts to end North Korea's nuclear threat, and will once again dominate Kerry's agenda in Beijing, said Doug Paal, director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The United States would hope that China would do a lot of things to restrain the flow of energy and food to North Korea to get their attention," he said. "Hold back on new investment in various businesses in North Korea. Those all run against China's primary interest in North Korea, which is to provide for stability there. So we have a very fundamental difference."

A difference that Paal said is being debated in China like never before, including by senior army officers and by some in the new government. Among them is incoming Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who guided Chinese diplomacy at the six-party talks with North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States.

"So we've got a competent, knowledgeable guy who, I can tell you, in private is prepared to say some tough things about North Korea that others in the Chinese government don't like to say," Paal said.

Cato Institute analyst Justin Logan said Beijing's reluctance is based in part on Chinese concerns about U.S. gains on an ultimately reunified Korean peninsula.

"The Chinese don't say this publicly a lot, but they're very, very concerned about the prospect of a unified Korea with American military garrisons on their border," he said. "That is a military problem that the Chinese think is important."

So far, China appears to share U.S. concerns about the belligerence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, by backing tougher United Nations sanctions and by calling for more talks to resolve the standoff.

Jim Schoff is a former U.S. Defense Department official for Asia who is now a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. He said the United States, China and South Korea could propose general-officer talks to reinstate an armistice from which North Korea just withdrew as a way of showing their wish to de-escalate the crisis.

"Seoul is trying to improve its relationship with China as well. Some in the region have been concerned that South Korea is going to turn away from the United States and Japan and turn toward China. Well, that's not such a bad thing if that relationship improves," he said.

Schoff said there is considerable economic gain for China in a more prosperous North Korea.

"They are really just a blight or a ghetto sitting amidst an incredibly wealthy and productive part of the world," he added. "The potential, if you create that land bridge between the mainland and a dynamic South Korea and linked to Japan and other countries the economic potential in that region for China's northeast and for Russia's far east, is tremendous."

Schoff said that is an opportunity for U.S. diplomacy.

"What is the potential, down the line, for thinking differently about the geopolitics of that region? A very difficult conversation for China to have, but perhaps getting easier as the years go by," he said.

In addition to Beijing, Kerry will also visit Seoul and Tokyo on next week's trip. Before traveling to Asia, he will visit Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian territory and London.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs