North Korea’s nuclear program is a source of tension not only in the region, but also in U.S.-China relations. Washington sees Beijing as enabling nuclear proliferation, while Beijing argues that their approach is less costly and more effective than U.S. pressure.
In this podcast, hosted by Carnegie–Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle, Peking University’s Wang Dong described Beijing as engaged in a gradual recalibration of China’s North Korea policy under the new Chinese leadership. Wang argued that perceptions that China values stability over denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, or that the burden of the North Korea issue lies solely with either Washington or Beijing, are neither true nor constructive.
Haenle, a former White House representative to the U.S. negotiating team at the Six Party Talks, said that the United States is increasingly frustrated by the failures of diplomacy over the North Korea issue. Washington is looking to China to play a bigger role in dealing with its rogue neighbor, Haenle said. Given the shared Chinese and U.S. interests in denuclearization, Wang suggested that greater cooperation on the North Korea issue can be achieved in the spirit of a new type of great-power relationship between the United States and China.
Wang Dong is an associate professor at the School of International Studies and director of the Center for Northeast Asian Strategic Studies at Peking University. He received his bachelor’s degree in law from Peking University and master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research interests include international relations theories, international security, Cold War studies, American foreign policy, and Chinese foreign policy.
Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.