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Without Pyongyang's denuclearization, N. Korea-China ties 'very uncertain': scholar

2015/01/14 18:26

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- The already strained political relations between North Korea and China will become more uncertain unless Pyongyang fulfills its denuclearization commitments, a Chinese foreign policy researcher said Wednesday.

In a rare frank comment on China's relations with South and North Korea, Yan Xuetong, director of the Institute of Contemporary International Relations of Tsinghua University, said Beijing's ties with Pyongyang "are not as close as" its ties with Seoul.

China's relationship with its only treaty ally, North Korea, has shown signs of self-contradiction as Beijing's leadership has often expressed frustration in dealings with the North since Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February 2013.

South Korean and U.S. officials have pressed China to do more in bringing the necessary pressure to make North Korea realize that it has no choice but to give up its nuclear ambitions and abide by its international obligations.

"China's relations with North Korea are not as close as China's relations with South Korea," Yan told reporters at an event organized by the All-China Journalists' Association, an organization of China's ruling Communist Party.

"If North Korea continues to insist on developing nuclear weapons and didn't make any commitments on denuclearization, then China-North Korea relations will be very uncertain," Yan told the event on China's diplomatic outlook for 2015.

Yan acknowledged that China is trying to develop "normal, state-to-state" relations with North Korea. The alliance between North Korea and China has been often described as being "forged in blood" as China fought alongside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War.

"With regard to China's relations with North Korea, I think that it is in the process of developing from not very normal stage to normal stage," he said.

Despite strained political ties between North Korea and China, few analysts believe that China will exert enough pressure on the North to give up its nuclear weapons because it could lead to the collapse of the North's regime and hurt China's national interests.