US should take charge on N Korea
By Paul Lin 林保華

Taipei Times 2017.4.22

Under perceived pressure from the approaching USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, North Korea did not conduct nuclear tests on Saturday last week, the nation’s “Day of the Sun” when state founder Kim Il-sung’s birth is celebrated, thus avoiding a clash.

However, the next day, North Korea did attempt to test-fire a missile. Some say this was a strategy suggested by China to allow North Korea to save face, while others say that its failure was the result of US cyberwarfare.

US President Donald Trump has been surprisingly silent on the issue, so it is unknown whether China and North Korea worked together to play a trick on Trump, or if the US was demonstrating its advanced technology.

Still, the missile exploded just five seconds after launch, so the question remains if the US would have been able to react so quickly.

Whatever the reason, the North Korean nuclear weapons issue remains unresolved, and two US aircraft carriers — the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Nimitz and their battle groups — are to arrive in the waters off the Korean Peninsula next week.

Trump said the US would solve the North Korean nuclear problem by itself, but will it?

In a commentary on the US’ Radio Free Asia channel in December 2010, I said that if China cannot discipline North Korea, then the US should do it.

I made these comments following WikiLeaks’ publication of a statement by China sent to South Korea, saying that it was ready to give up North Korea and let the South resolve the problem.

I think that must have been a lie; China will not abandon North Korea, which has a similar value system, behaves in similar ways and is a great bargaining chip in China’s opposition to the US.

That is why I suggested that the US should be responsible for the destruction of North Korea’s nuclear weapons system: China could be notified in advance that the US has no intention of occupying North Korean territory and that the subsequent unification issue should be left to the two Koreas to solve.

China and North Korea would adopt guerrilla tactics, withdrawing when the enemy approaches and pursue when the enemy retreats. The US must not allow itself to be played and exhausted; it should fight when it needs to, because there is sufficient rationale, and it will simply be a matter of finding the best timing.

Earlier this month, the US fired cruise missiles at Syria after notifying Russia in advance, and it avoided hitting a biochemical base to prevent contamination.

This approach could be applied to North Korea as well.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un eliminates dissidents — including members of his own family — through the cruelest means, creating insecurity among high-level officials. It is very likely that in the event of a war, its military power would fall short of expectations, and there would be internal divisions and defections.

Judging from the infighting among China’s party, government and military elites, in combination with economic, employment and other social problems, it is unimaginable that it would once again wage “war to resist US aggression and aid Korea,” and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system would be a useful tool to prevent Chinese intervention.

This month’s issue of Hong Kong-based Cheng Ming magazine reveals the fear of war that has seeped into Chinese society after Trump’s election.

The People’s Liberation Army Daily on Feb. 3 said in a commentary that in terms of traditional “brave and skillful warfare,” only a crisis would be able to force action.

According to a report on the Chinese military, the number of people refusing to serve is rising every year and the phenomenon is spreading from southeastern coastal areas to the central and western regions. People who have reached the required military service age are getting tattoos and pretending to be gay to avoid service.

In addition, Beijing’s National Security Bureau on Monday last week began implementing regulations that ancourage citizens to report spies, offering rewards of up to 500,000 yuan (US$72,642).

It seems China is worried that if war breaks out, many Chinese would work with foreign troops inside China or help pave the way for the enemy.

It seems China will decide ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress scheduled for this fall whether it is China or the US that is the paper tiger.

Will Trump continue to be as patient as former US president Barack Obama was?

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Lin Lee-kai


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