USIP conducts ongoing research and policy analysis on major developments on the Korean Peninsula through three Track 1.5 projects – the Korea Working Group (KWG), the U.S. China Project on Crisis Avoidance and Cooperation (PCAC), and the U.S.-ROK-Japan Trilateral Dialogue in Northeast Asia (TDNA). Based on key findings from CAP's ongoing research interviews with Asian government think tank counterparts, KWG director Dr. John Park conducts regular briefings for senior Congressional staffers and officials at the State Department and the Pentagon. Recent briefings focused on:
- China's supporting role in accelerated North Korean leadership succession process via the Communist Party of China-Workers' Party of Korea channel - a largely underexamined relationship with major implications for the U.S.' North Korea policy;
- Beijing's "Sunshine Policy with Chinese Characteristics;"
- the motivations for and limitations of Beijing's efforts to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula following North Korea's artillery attack on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.
The Current Situation
On June 3, North Korea revealed that it had been engaged in South Korea-initiated secret talks. South Korea acknowledged that these talks had taken place in Beijing, but denied North Korea’s claim that South Korean officials had offered bribes for an inter-Korean summit. North Korea declared that it would not deal with the Lee Myung-bak administration for the remainder of its term. The significance of this development is that it derails Beijing’s threestage proposal for resuming the stalled Six-Party Talks. Stage one called for an improvement in inter-Korean relations. Stage two set out U.S.-North Korea talks. Stage three envisioned the culmination of this process with a restart of the Six-Party Talks. While this is a disappointment for Seoul in its efforts to improve inter-Korean ties, this is also a major setback for Beijing’s plan to facilitate a resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Chinese leaders are concerned that if they remain deadlocked, the region will become more unstable, particularly in light of the North Korean provocations against the South last year.