The debate on China’s policy shift on North Korea: Why “evidence” is not evidence

Sunny Seong-hyon Lee, Ph.D.
Pantech Fellow at Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
Stanford University
| CSCC Conference Room, Fisher-Bennett 345

The speculation over China’s foreign policy shift on North Korea has been particularly feverish during this year’s Korean crisis owing to the fact that there are new leaders in Beijing and Pyongyang and many reports suggest the two former Cold War allies did not get along particularly well. Indeed, the world has lately been wondering whether China has finally lost patience with North Korea, as the rift between the duo have deepened since North Korea conducted its 3rd nuclear test on February 12, 2013, despite China’s repeated counsel against the move. Even President Obama said publicly that China was "recalculating" its stance on North Korea. The talk will review the validity of “evidence” that has shaped the recent debate on China’s policy shift on North Korea. Dr. Lee, fresh from Beijing, will go over “signs of change” on China’s North Korean policy, and eventually, conclude  that the available body of facts or information on China’s foreign policy shift on North Korea finds little ground for support. This means that a fundamental adjustment of Chinese policy on North Korea is not happening currently and there is no indication to expect it in any near future.

Sunny Seong-hyon Lee, a journalist based in Beijing, China, is the 2013-14 Pantech Fellow in Korean Studies at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Reseach Center. Dr. Lee has lived in China for 11 years, including as chief correspondent and later as director of China Research Center of the Korea Times. He served as an internal reviewer of the North Korean reports by the International Crisis Group (ICG) on multiple occasions. A fluent Chinese speaker and writer, he is a frequent commentator on China-Korea relations as well as on North Korea in Chinese newspapers and on TV. He has also appeared on CNN, Al Jazeera, and the Chinese state CCTV.

Co-Sponsored by: Center for East Asian Studies, James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies

* Lunch Provided