We may be nearing the critical tipping point, on which China finally realizes that shielding North Korea is not in its national interest. We already know that the Chinese public is no fan of North Korea, but now, several prominent Chinese academics have condemned North Korea's nuclear program.
Among the academics, the latest volley came from historian Tao Duanfang, who claimed: "If North Korea provides the cause for war by breaking the Armistice Treaty, China has no obligation to interfere in that war." Jia Qingguo, assistant dean of the Beijing University Graduate School of International Relations, said: "China's attitude toward North Korea is entirely up to how North Korea acts . . . As to North Korea's nuclear program, China has always followed the principles of denuclearization, peace and stability, and resolution through dialog. If North Korea does not act properly as to the nuclear issue, China has no choice but to follow the decisions of the international community."
Even better, the criticisms of North Korea are trickling from the very bedrock of China-North Korea alliance: the People's Liberation Army of China. Admiral Yin Zhuo, who is attending the National People's Congress in Beijing, said: "We [China] do not have a military alliance with North Korea. The North Korea-China relationship is not the same as the U.S.-South Korea-China relationship. China has no military stationed in North Korea, nor does China direct North Korea's army. It is false to claim that China must not sit tight and not interfere with the North Korean issue, just because China and North Korea are geographically close." General Mao Xinyu, grandson of Mao Zedong (!), also said: "the Chinese people wish for denuclearized North Korea."
It is important not to over-emphasize these instances. After all, these are only words at this point. But they may be signs of things to come.
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