Back in the DPRK… April 8, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Politics.
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro warned ally North Korea against war yesterday and described the current tensions on the Korean peninsula as one of the “gravest risks” for nuclear holocaust since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Saying he spoke as a friend, Mr Castro (86) wrote in Cuban state media that North Korea, led by Kim Jong-un (30), had shown the world its technical prowess and now it was time to remember its duties to others.
Good for him.
For some measure of the sheer strangeness of the DPRK it’s worth turning to an interesting piece in Prospect on the relationship between China and the DPRK (which perhaps is a bit less close after this). Granted this is Prospect, and that entails all necessary caveats, but the piece itself comes down sharply on the side of that relationship being in essence a marriage of convenience with the PRC utilising the DPRK as a strategic pivot in terms of the regional balance of power, and indeed that makes some sense – albeit it’s a bit of a cynical calculus.
But some eye-raising stuff in amongst the information – and remember, the DPRK by its actions as deeply strange (not least in for a period kidnapping Japanese nationals from that latter nation’s beaches – and admitting to same).
What’s fascinating is how openly this is discussed by those from China interviewed in the Prospect piece. There’s no punches pulled, as the following example demonstrates.
North Korean officials routinely tear up investment contracts and walk away with Chinese money. Their soldiers regularly shoot Chinese traders across the Yalu River and treat Chinese fisherman to a style of hospitality that China sometimes shows to the Vietnamese.
“They abused the Chinese crew, smashed the boat and desecrated the Chinese national flag,” says a leading Korea expert, Zhang Liangui, referring to the “kidnapping” of 28 Chinese fishermen on 8th May last year. “North Korea has always been an untrustworthy nation, China has given it so much aid, it really is a weird state,” says Zhang, who is a professor of international strategic research at the Communist Party School, from which Xi recently retired as president.
If that is how their nominal friends view them…