With international attention focused on a potential U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in May, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a surprise trip to Beijing in late March to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The North Korean leader’s visit to Beijing, his first foreign visit since assuming power in late 2011, came amid strained bilateral relations in recent years. Kim and Xi appear to have reinvigorated the historical bonds between the two countries and reaffirmed China’s crucial role in the future of the Korean Peninsula. This conference explored the dynamics and tensions of the historical relationship between China and North Korea, the potential impact of Korean reunification on China, and China’s role in a limited military conflict and its aftermath. 

8:30 am - 9:00 am: Registration and Breakfast

9:00 am - 9:15 am: Welcome


Nancy Lindborg
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Thomas Banchoff
Vice President for Global Engagement, Georgetown University

Panel 1, 9:15am - 10:30am
China and North Korea Relations

This panel examined the historical China-North Korea relationship, changes in political and security relations, and role of past and present economic ties on the future of the bilateral relationship.


  • Dennis Wilder, Moderator
    Managing Director, Initiative for US-China Dialogue on Global Issues; Assistant Professor of Practice, Asian Studies Program, Georgetown University
  • Stella Xu
    Associate Professor of History, Roanoke College
  • Yafeng Xia
    Professor of History, Long Island University Brooklyn
  • Junsheng Wang
    Visiting Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council
    Director and Associate Professor, Department of China’s Regional Strategy, National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China 


Panel 2, 10:45am - 12:00pm
Would a Reunified Korea under South Korean Leadership be Positive or Negative for China?

This panel assessed China’s position on the ideal end state for the Korean Peninsula and whether a reunified peninsula under South Korean leadership would be beneficial or detrimental to Chinese economic, political, and security interests given South Korean, Japanese and U.S. likely responses. 


  • Frank AumModerator
    Senior Expert on North Korea, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Yun Sun 
    Co-Director, East Asia Program; Director, China Program, Stimson Center
  • Heung-Kyu Kim 
    Director and Professor of Political Science, China Policy Institute, Ajou University, South Korea 
  • Michael Green
    Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy and Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University
    Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Lunch Keynote Address, 12:15pm - 1:45pm


  • Ambassador Mark LippertKeynote Speaker
    Current member of the Board of Trustees at the Asia Foundation and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea.
  • Oriana Skylar Mastro, Moderator
    Assistant Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University
    Jeanne Kirkpatrick Scholar, American Enterprise Institute


Panel 3, 2:00pm - 3:15pm
War and its Aftermath on the Korean Peninsula – What Role Could China Play?

This panel discussed the contours of a potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula, to include U.S. operations, how China may respond, and opportunities for cooperation. Participants will also examine Beijing’s role in shaping the post-war situation on the peninsula.  


Review the conversation throughout the day on Twitter with the hashtag #ChinaGUUSIP.

This conference was cosponsored by the Georgetown Center for Security Studies and the United States Institute of Peace, and made possible in part by the generosity of the Bilden Asian Security Studies Fund.

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