Chinese scholars and policymakers have begun talking about supporting surgical strikes on North Korea and removal of leader Kim Jong-un from power as a policy option, a Chinese professor said Thursday.
- Zhe Sun, China initiative director of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, made the remark during a security forum in Washington, saying debates are under way among Chinese opinion leaders about how to deal with the North.
- “Some Chinese scholars and policy makers began to talk about supporting ‘surgical strikes’ and ‘decapitation’ by the U.S. and South Korea as one policy option,” the professor said, adding that the newspaper Global Times even indicated that China should “make contributions” to such an effort in “destroying the nuclear capability.”
- “More radical proposals indicate that China should change the leader, send troops across borders and station in DPRK, force DPRK into giving up nuclear and beginning opening up and reforming,” the professor said during the seminar held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Contrary to such hardline views, others argue that China should avoid showing a “chauvinistic” attitude towards the communist neighbor and seeing it as a country that China can do whatever it wishes to “correct” its behavior, the professor said.
It is unusual for a Chinese scholar to talk about the possibility of a surgical strike or decapitation of leader Kim. That appears to show growing frustration China feels about the recalcitrant neighbor in the wake of Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test last month.
The professor said that the debates in China about the North have focused on such points as whether the North is a strategic asset or liability; actual effects of international sanctions; potential nuclear safety problems; and refugee issues on the border with the North.
“The consensus of the debate is to maintain the stability of the North Korean regime, expressed in the ‘3 Nos’ policy (no war, no nuclear, and no chaos). The most controversial issue is how big of a price China should pay for supporting the Kim Jong-un regime,” the professor said.
“Clearly, China demonstrated its preference for North Korea’s unstable yet controllable survival over its collapse and the subsequent developments,” he said.