North Korea launches an attack that threatens the US, China should stay neutral. But if Washington or South Korea strikes first, Beijing will step in and stop them. That's the word from one of China's most influential state newspapers, the Global Times, on Friday. But this isn't all about alliances.
As Reuters correspondent, Ben Blanchard, explains, Beijing is looking after number one.>> China would presumably see any attack by North Korea, that originates in North Korea, as provocative. Frankly, if North Korea does something this stupid then they kind of get what they deserve. On the other hand, if the attack came from Washington or Seoul, then presumably that would cause a collapse of North Korea.
Any collapse of North Korea would send a flood of destabilizing refugees into northeastern China and also potentially end up with a reunified Korean peninsula that is allied with the United States and, therefore, you would have US troops along the Chinese boarder. That is something China really does not want to see.
>> According to Friday's editorial, Beijing will come down hard on any side who wants to change the status quo in areas where China's interests are concerned. So how would China react if the US or South Korea fired first?>> Possibly what would happen is that the Chinese may end up sending their own troops into North Korea, potentially.
Simply to make sure the country doesn't collapse, to ensure that you don't have this wave of refugees going into northeastern China. But also, China's other worry would be to secure the nuclear weapons that do exist in North Korea. China would not want a small band of members of the old government running around with a handful of nuclear weapons in the event of a collapse scenario in North Korea.
Because these nuclear weapons could just as easily be aimed at a Chinese city, as at South Korea, the United States, or Japan.>> China may have its own ideas about how to act in the event of a war but according to the Global Times, it can't prevent one.
In the words of Friday's editorial, Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time.