Last week, most media and analysts looked at this statement from the Chinese president as a sign that Beijing was growing weary with North Korea’s antics.
“No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains.”
Writing at PJ Media, Gorgon Chang took that statement as a criticism of the US, not Pyongyang. It indicated that China is backing North Korea, not that it is wavering in its commitment to its erratic neighbor. Today, China released a paper that backs Chang’s assessment.
The paper is a national defense paper, which the Beijing regime presented at a news briefing today.
Strongly alluding to the Obama administration’s policy to “pivot” toward a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the paper said: “Some country has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region, and frequently makes the situation tenser.” Thus, China had an “arduous task to safeguard its national unification, territorial integrity and development interests.”
The New York Times story on the paper soft pedals the Chinese line, but we now have a pair of major statements across a week of tensions, in which Beijing is clearly suggesting that it will side with North Korea should war break out. One of the statements came from China’s President Xi Jinping, the other came from the Chinese military. The two statements are evidently intended to show a unified front in Beijing, as China shows its unity with North Korea against the United States.
The paper blames the US for trying to “contain” China. The Times tries soft selling that, too.
In an indication that the defense paper may reflect a softer tone than the more dominant and nationalistic strand in the Chinese military, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a commentary Tuesday that the West was trying to contain China, and that this must be resisted.
“Currently, the world situation is undergoing its most profound and complex changes since the end of the cold war,” said the commentary, one in a series that seized on a speech on military matters last month by President Xi Jinping. “Hostile Western forces have stepped up their strategy of imposing Westernization on our country and splitting it up, and they are doing their utmost to fence in and contain our country’s development.”
This Chinese defense paper is an ominous development, no matter how softly the Times presents it. It comes at a time when tensions on the Korean peninsula are as high as they have been in decades, with new leadership in all of the countries involved. It also comes just a day after the US suffered a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon that killed three and injured about 150.