China won’t save North Korea if country goes to war, says former PLA general



China will not step in to save neighbouring North Korea if the Pyongyang regime collapses or starts a war, a retired People’s Liberation Army general has said, possibly signalling Beijing’s waning patience with its wayward, nuclear-armed ally.

“China is not a saviour,” Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing military region, wrote in the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the Communist Party.

China cannot influence the situation on the Korean peninsula … It is not necessary for China’s younger generation to fight a war for another country

“Should North Korea really collapse, not even China can save it,” he said in a contribution to the nationalist tabloid’s Chinese-language website, which was published on Monday.

The outspoken Wang has made critical comments about North Korea before and it was not clear if his words indicated a policy shift regarding Pyongyang.

China has long been the isolated North’s key ally and aid provider. Beijing came to Pyongyang’s aid in the 1950-53 Korean War, when its intervention against United States-led UN forces defending South Korea helped seal a stalemate that has lasted to this day.

China’s role has grown as the North’s economy has shrunk in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union – with which Pyongyang had close trade and aid ties – more than 20 years ago.

In the two decades since, Beijing has moved to develop diplomatic relations and booming trade ties with Seoul, Pyongyang’s bitter rival. President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye have exchanged visits, while Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have so far kept their distance.

Wang said China would not get involved in any new war on the Korean peninsula.

“China cannot influence the situation on the Korean peninsula … China has no need to light a fire and get burnt. Whoever provokes a conflagration bears responsibility,” he wrote. “Now there is no more ’socialist camp’. It is not necessary for China’s younger generation to fight a war for another country.”

Wang criticised the North for its nuclear development, using it as an example of how the country’s interests can differ from China’s and saying it had “already brought about the serious threat of nuclear contamination in China’s border area”.

But he also slammed Western countries for “demonising” North Korea and interfering in its internal affairs in the name of human rights. “China absolutely does not meddle,” he wrote.

Beijing will “support what should be supported and oppose what should be opposed” regarding the North, Wang said, indicating that China was not ready to completely give up on its troublesome neighbour.

China will neither “court” nor “abandon” North Korea, he wrote. “This should be China’s basic attitude.”

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