Issue Brief on “What Role Can China Play in Cooling the Burning Korean Issue?”


The world is looking at the volatile Korean peninsula with apprehension as the tension escalates, with a looming threat of a war that could turn into world war 3. In what seems like a death call, the North Korean President Kim Jung-un has been very clear in his stance that North Korea would not shy away from use of nuclear weapons if needed. The future seems fearful as threat of nuclear war surrounds the air, at one side one has Mr. Kim, and on the other there is Mr. Trump, both have eccentric personalities. This makes Chinese President Xi Jinping an integral figure in mellowing down tensions. For one, he is a man with stable nature and most importantly, China has historically enjoyed good relations with Pyongyang, thus having power to control the fire that is burning in the Korean peninsula.

China is North Korea’s most important ally, biggest trading partner, its main source of food and energy, and accounts for 90 per cent of North Korea’s total trade volume. It has helped sustain Kim Jung-un’s regime, and has historically opposed harsh international sanctions on North Korea.[1]  China’s support for North Korea dates back to the Korean War (1950–1953), when its troops flooded the Korean Peninsula to aid its northern ally. On the other hand, North Korea provides strategic support to China in East Asia, as this region is surrounded with American allies in shape of Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

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