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Old 03-17-2017, 01:52 PM
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Exclamation BREMMER: The North Korean conflict has made a US-China war dangerously plausible

BREMMER: The North Korean conflict has made a US-China war dangerously plausible
By: Alex Lockie - 3-17-17
RE: http://www.businessinsider.com/north...s-china-2017-3 (photo's on site)



While the US openly mulls military action against North Korea and its possibly nuclear consequences, another threat looms largely behind: China.

"Broadly speaking, if you asked me a year ago if war between major powers was thinkable, I'd say no. Now I'd say yes," Ian Bremmer, the head of Eurasia Group told Business Insider.

"Not imminent, not likely, but it could happen."

(On site only) In this image made from video released by KRT on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, North Korea launches four missiles in an undisclosed location North Korea. On Monday, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in an apparent protest against ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. KRT via AP Video

"Not imminent, not likely, but it could happen."

China has a vested strategic interest in maintaining a North Korean state that's unfriendly to the West to act as a buffer state between the powerful, democratic state of South Korea and China's authoritarian mainland.

China may not support North Korea's brutal human rights abuses or their nuclear threats, but it is highly unlikely that the country would stand idly by if the US tried to remove Kim Jong-un, according to Bremmer. A unified, Western-leaning Korea would be a threat to China's efforts to project power throughout the region.

"The US-China relationship will be radically worse if we strike North Korea," said Bremmer. A strike against Pyongyang would "clearly have implications on US markets," with a direct, almost existential risk to South Korea, he added.

And if Trump takes out his frustrations over North Korea on China, it could lead to a dangerous deterioration of relations, and possibly the first major power conflict since World War II, according to Bremmer.

Even if the US doesn't take military action, the Trump administration's hawkish stance on North Korea could still sour relations between Beijing and Washington, the world's two biggest economies, said Bremmer.

China's hardline conservatives "would love to have an excuse to go harder on the US," he said.

Trump has repeatedly pushed China to put more pressure on North Korea, but China's influence in Pyongyang has been fading.

Kim Jong Un recently executed senior military officials with ties to China, limiting Beijing's influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping did support sanctions on North Korea, so it's unclear what else Trump could demand of Xi.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:57 PM
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How China could stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III
By: Alex Lockie - Mar. 16, 2017, 3:10 PM
RE: http://www.businessinsider.com/china...h-korea-2017-3

After North Korea tested a salvo of ballistic missiles designed to defeat US and allied missile defenses in the Pacific, speculation has risen about a possible US "decapitation strike" on North Korea.

With the help of Stratfor's Sim Tack, Business Insider detailed how such a strike would likely play out, but in the interest of keeping the article focused, we omitted a major player — China.

Here's how China would respond if the US were to attack the hermit kingdom.

China may not endorse North Korea's nuclear threats toward the US, South Korea, and Japan, or its abysmal human-rights practices, but Beijing does have a vested interest in preventing reunification on the Korean peninsula.

Still, China's proximity to North Korea means that the US would likely alert Chinese forces of an attack — whether they gave 30 minutes' or 30 days' notice, the Chinese response would likely be to preclude — not thwart — such an attack.

"A united Korea is potentially very powerful, country right on China's border," with a functioning democracy, booming tech sector, and a Western bent, which represents "a problem they’d rather not deal with," according to Tack.

The US has more than 25,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea, but no US asset has crossed the 38th parallel in decades. China would like to keep it that way.

(Note: Photo's & Maps on site only)

For China, the North Korean state acts as a "physical buffer against US allies and forces," said Tack. If the US could base forces in North Korea, they'd be right on China's border, and thereby better situated to contain China as it continues to rise as a world power.

Tack said that China would "definitely react to and try to prevent" US action that could lead to a reunified Korea, but the idea that Chinese ground forces would flood into North Korea and fight against the West is "not particularly likely at all."

For China to come to the aide of the Kim regime — an international pariah with concentration camps and ambitions to nuke the US — just to protect a buffer state "would literally mean that China would engage in a third world war," said Tack.

So while China would certainly try to mitigate the fall of North Korea, it's extremely unlikely they'd do so with direct force against the West, like it did in the Korean War.

Currently, the US has an aircraft carrier, nuclear submarines, F-22s, and F-35s in the Pacific. Many of the US's biggest guns shipped out to the Pacific for Foal Eagle, the annual military exercise between the US and South Korea.

But according to Tack, the real deliberations on North Korea's fate aren't going on between military planners, but between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Chinese diplomats he'll be meeting with.

"There's still a lot of diplomatic means to use up before the US has no other options but to go with a military option," said Tack. "But even if they decide the military option is going to be the way to go — it’s still going to be costly. It’s not something that you would take lightly."

While no side in a potential conflict would resort to using force without exhausting all diplomatic avenues, each side has a plan to move first.

According to Tack, if China thought the US was going to move against North Korea, they'd try to use force to pressure Pyongyang to negotiate, lest they be forced to deal with the consequences of a Western-imposed order in what would eventually be a reunified Korea.

"The overt presence of Chinese forces would dissuade the US from going into that territory because they would run the risk of inviting that larger conflict themselves."

For the same reason that the US stations troops in South Korea, or Poland, China may look to put some of its forces on the line to stop the US from striking.

With Chinese soldiers in Pyongyang and around North Korea's main nuclear infrastructure, the US would have to think long and hard about bombing these critical targets.

Even China, a country often indifferent to international opinion that has strict prohibitions on free speech internally, wouldn't want to stand up and back the murderous Kim regime.

Chinese forces in North Korea would "be in a position to force a coup or force Kim’s hand" to disarm, said Tack.

"To make sure North Korea still exists and serves Chinese interests while it stops acting as a massive bullseye to the US," he added.

That would be an ideal result for China, and would most certainly preclude a direct US strike.

Chinese leaders wants to avoid a strong, US-aligned Korea on its borders. They want to prevent a massive refugee outflow from a crushed North Korean state. And they want to defuse the Korean peninsula's nuclear tensions — but in doing so, they'd expose an ugly truth.

US President Donald Trump has accused China of refusing to help with North Korea.

If China unilaterally denuclearized North Korea to head off a US strike, this would only vindicate that claim, and raise questions as to why China allowed North Korea to develop and export dangerous technologies and commit heinous human rights abuses.

For China, it's "not even about saving" the approximately 25 million living under a brutal dictatorship in North Korea, but rather maintaining its buffer state, according to Tack.

China would likely seek to install an alternative government to the Kim regime but one that still opposes the West and does not cooperate with the US.

According to Tack, China needs a North Korean state that says "we oppose Western interests and we own this plot of land."

If China doesn't exert its influence soon, it may be too late.
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O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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