Introduction: Continuity and Change in Chinese Expert Views of North Korea

  • Carla P. Freeman
Part of the International Relations and Comparisons in Northeast Asia book series (IRCNA)


Rising concerns about the threats North Korea poses to international security have made Beijing’s relations with Pyongyang an increasingly important focal point for the international community, which has high hopes that Chinese influence will bring an end to Pyongyang’s provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons. As Pyongyang has continued to conduct international affairs in ways that, more often than not, defy Beijing’s expectations and preferences, there is evidence that the Chinese leadership has been engaged in a “rethink” on its policy toward its intractable ally.1 While it is not yet clear to what extent or how Chinese policy toward North Korea could be reoriented, the community of Chinese academics and other experts weighing in on North Korea’s behavior and the China-North Korea relationship has been growing. Many of these experts and their perspectives are not well known outside China. While there are more non-Chinese analysts who regularly read Chinese writings on international affairs than ever before, this group is still too small to adequately circulate Chinese experts’ views into the wider international dialogue on North Korean security. At a time when a better understanding of what China’s North Korea watchers think could be especially helpful to insights into the thinking and the debates underlying Chinese policy, this book’s 15 chapters present an introduction to an English language readership to some of their views. In addition to illustrating the plurality of perspectives advanced by Chinese experts on North Korea and an international relationship that is China’s closest as well as its most difficult, the volume’s contributions should also be seen as windows on the contours of China’s particular political and intellectual environment.


Foreign Policy Korean Peninsula Chinese Communist Party Nuclear Test Nuclear Program 
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  1. 1.
    See Andrew Scobell and Mark Cozad, “China’s North Korea Policy: Rethink or Recharge?” Parameters 44 (2014),
  2. 3.
    Wang Zhongwen, “Yi Xinde Jiaodu Miqi Guanhu Chaoxian Wenti yu Dongbeiya Xingshu,” Zhanlue yu Guanli 4 (2004), 92–94.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    See similar points in Bates Gill, “China’s North Korea Policy: Assessing Interests and Influences,” United States Institute of Peace Special Report 83 (2011),’s_North_Korea_Policy.pdf. Liu Hongcai was a deputy director in the Zhonglianbu.
  4. 9.
    Bonnie Glaser, Scott Snyder, and John S. Park, “Keeping an Eye on an Unruly Neighbor: Chinese Views of Economic Reform and Stability in North Korea,” Center for Strategic and International Studies and US Institute of Peace, January 3, 2008, Scholar
  5. 11.
    Hochul Lee, “Rising China and the Evolution of China-North Korea Relations,” The Korean Journal of International Studies 12 (2014), 99–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 12.
    See Ren Xiao, “Academic Input and China’s Foreign Policy Making,” University of Southern California US-China Institute, September 11, 2014, Scholar
  7. 13.
    Along with Ren, “Academic Input and China’s Foreign Policy Making,” see Bonnie Glaser, “Chinese Foreign Policy Research Institutes and the Practice of Influence,” in Gilbert Rozman (ed.), China’s Foreign Policy: Who Makes It, and How Is It Made? (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    Alain Guidetti (ed.), “World Views: Negotiating the North Korean Nuclear Issue,” GCSP Geneva Papers—Research Series 12 (2013), 19.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Quan Hexiu, “The Two Systems of Diplomacy of Late Qing China: External Relationship, Modernization and Transitional Phase,” Journal of Northeast Asian History 5 (2008), 21–44.Google Scholar

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© Carla P. Freeman 2015

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  • Carla P. Freeman

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