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North Korea-PRC ties deepen, based on strategic enmity


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One consequence of U.S. support for South Korea in countering the March sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan is that China's powerful military has trumped any pro-U.S. civilian leaders in bolstering ties with military-dominated North Korea.


China’s military officials have been outspoken in their support for North Korea and against the Seoul-led international investigative unit that concluded a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors.


The first indication of Chinese-North Korean military solidarity was presented by Chinese Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, head of the National Defense University, who told Defense Secretary Robert Gates during at heated exchange at a Singapore defense conference in June that there were “controversial views" on who sank the Cheonan despite the probe that found irrefutable evidence that a North Korean torpedo sank the ship.


China’s military then used near-hysterical rhetoric to denounce the joint U.S.-South Korean naval maneuvers that were designed as a show of force against the North Korean ship attack. A Chinese general said that any U.S. naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea would be regarded as similar to the 1961 Cuban missile crisis that put the U.S. and Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear war.


Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said in Pyongyang July 30 that China was committed to consolidating ties with the North Koreans.


Hu said during a meeting with Yang Hyong Sop, vice president of the North Korean presidium of People's Assembly, that Chinese leaders “attach great importance to the bilateral relationship.”


“It is China's steadfast policy to continuously consolidate and enhance the good neighborliness and friendly cooperation with the DPRK, which will better serve the interests of the two countries and the two peoples,” Hu said.


China is North Korea’s main supplier of energy resources and has helped bolster the failing regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il through trade, primarily mining contracts for natural resources in North Korea.


China’s civilian leadership has told U.S. officials that its ties to North Korea are aimed at promoting stability for China in the northeast sector of the country and to avoid any mass migration from North Korea into China in the event of a sudden collapse of order.


However, the Chinese military regards the North Korean military as a key fraternal communist ally. Both militaries share a strategic enmity for the United States dating from the Korean War, when Chinese forces entered the conflict on the North Korean side


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