What is the nature of internal Chinese debate regarding North Korea? In the event of instability in the Korean peninsula, how would Beijing respond? Drawing on discussions with North Korea specialists during a Center for Strategic and International Studies-USIP delegation visit to the People's Republic of China, this report explores these and related issues.

This report is based on discussions with Chinese specialists on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) during a visit to Beijing, Changchun, and Yanji, June 25-30, 2007. Discussions followed on a similar round of interviews conducted in April 2006. Several of our interlocutors recently returned from extended stays in Pyongyang and many others regularly visit the DPRK, commonly referred to as North Korea. Topics discussed included trends in North Korea’s economy and prospects for reform; current trends in Sino-DPRK economic relations; China’s policy toward North Korea in the wake of the nuclear test; Chinese debates on North Korea; Chinese assessments of North Korea’s political stability; and potential Chinese responses to instability.

In analyzing North Korea, Chinese experts primarily rely on the following sources of information:

  1. South Korean economic data;
  2. personal visits to North Korea;
  3. contacts with visiting North Korean delegations and North Korean students studying in China; and
  4. interviews with North Korean refugees in China.

Related Publications

North Korea and China: The Endgame Behind the Headlines

North Korea and China: The Endgame Behind the Headlines

Friday, April 20, 2018

By: Fred Strasser

In the fast-moving diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program, the long-term interests of the country’s powerful neighbor China don’t make headlines. Yet behind China’s tactical moves such as President Xi Jinping’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month lie strategic questions about what China—vital to any resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue—envisions as a satisfactory end state for the Korean Peninsula.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Global Policy

For an Afghan Peace, Work with China

For an Afghan Peace, Work with China

Thursday, March 15, 2018

By: David Rank; USIP Staff

Defense Secretary James Mattis said in Kabul March 13 that, for U.S. policy in Afghanistan, “victory will be a political reconciliation” that includes the Taliban. Mattis’ statement sustains the public focus on an Afghan peace process following separate proposals for negotiations last month by the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. If the United States is to maximize the chances of ending this 16-year war, it needs urgently to pull China into the process, according to David Rank, who headed both the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the State Department’s Office of Afghanistan Affairs during a 27-year diplomatic career.

Peace Processes; Reconciliation

View All Publications