In today's 'Financial Times of London' [2 December 2010] ran an op ed by its correspondent David Pilling: 'Beijing is not about to prise lips from teeth'. He says more or less what he wants to say without explaining why China has used the metaphor 'lips to teeth'.
During his visit to Pyongyang in the 1980's, Deng Xiao ping assured his host Kim Il Sung that China stands firmly behind North Korea. He quoted this Southern Sung saying as a cautionary tale as to why China was and is North Korea's ally.
It is interesting with all the China hands scurrying in and out of government service in the corridors of power in Washington, little interest has been paid to Deng's remarks. It is a reminder how curiously uninterested the chattering classes here are when it comes to history.
A quick history lesson is in order: As the Ming army threated the Southern Sung dynasty, it appealed to the Northern Sung to join forces, in order to rebuff and defeat the growing advances of the Ming. The Northern Sung refused to become the lips that would protect the Southern Sung's teeth. The moral of this tale is simple:
the Northern Sung's deaf response to the Southern Sung call led to the triumph of the Ming and the destruction of the two Sung kingdoms.
China has learnt it history well. It won't contenance a house divided. It takes to heart Lincoln's call that a house united will prevail against all weather. Substitute the US and its ally South Korea for the Ming, and China and North Korea for united Sung forces. And, thus, the message is loud and clear: China will stand tall with North Korea.
Furthermore Helene Cooper in the Sunday 'New York Times' [28 November 2010] has an interesting piece in the 'Week in Review' section. Policy makers in Obama's White House would profit from reading 'The trouble with asking China to act like the US'.
As GuamDiary has long stressed that China has no desire to act as Washington's water boy. And for obvious reasons: ask the question 'qui bono?' Certainly,China does. And it finds Washington's reasoning uninviting and unwelcome.
Chinese volunteer forces did not enter the Korean War for a jolly, good time to battle the Yankee imperial aggressors. They came in support of retreating North Korean because they did not and still do not want a hostile US and South Korean presence on its borders. And for that fact, neither would Russia which also share a common border with North Korea.
The combined North Korean and Chinese volunteers turned the tide against MacArthur, and 'rolled back' the US led UN forces to the 38 parallel where they remain today.
Sixty years later, nothing has changed in this standoff.
Pilling quotes John Delury of the Asia for his views. Delury simply states the obvious: China's consistent message that it will not abandon North Korea.
GuamDiary, here, wish to mention as a contrast of opionion the name of to Asia Society's resident Korea expert Scott Synder. Synder is the 'rapporteur' of a recent CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] study on US policy towards Korea. In brief, its recommendations -- unanimously agreed to by 24 of America's Korea specialists in and out of government -- call for a return to the Truman doctrine of 'rolling back' North Korea. In other words, it sins on the side of overthrowing Kim Jong il & co. by any means possible. This hoary solution, as GuamDiary noted, is not only bankrupt but it is a return to pre Korean conditions which threaten renewal of military conflict on the divided Korean peninsula.
Pelling also consulted the recently much sought opionion of Brian Myers who spent eight years trolling North Korean literature and propaganda. Myers teaches at a South Korean university. He has a jaundice view on the North, and to him, it is the reincarnation of Hirohito's Japanese militarism. Yet, he does not see China leaving North Korea twisting in the wind.
Lazy policy makers leave the field wide open to 'experts' who oddly enough are so ideologically honed that they mistake, as the French say, 'midi pour quatorze heures', in other words, complicate a matter where clearer choices seem clearer.