Views from the East: What to Make of the North-South Korea Tension

By Zhang Chao and Rose Scobie
Published: 2010-11-29

South Korea and the US Will not Launch Large Scale Retaliation on North Korea
According to Jin Canrong, Vice-President of Institute of International Relations at Renmin University, the conflict between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and South Korea will be limited to a certain extent. The following are excerpts from an interview with Jin Canrong:
~This type of conflict has taken place several times. Last January the two countries confronted each other. Of course at that time North Korea suffered more. The Cheonan conflict this year made South Korea suffer more, and South Korea mobilized the world's public opinion. Now North Korea needs more international representation. As we know, North Korea informed the U.S. that it has over 2000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment in operation, which means the nation is seeking international attention. Thus the U.S. will have to have talks with North Korea.
~I don't think South Korea and the U.S. will seek large scale revenge. The two countries do not have enough ability to punish North Korea.
~The U.S. is stuck in its own economic depression; it is hard for it to set aside resources for East Asia. Besides, international focus is centered on Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. In East Asia, its attitude to North Korea is contradictory involving both confrontation and private contacts.
~The economy of South Korea is rather fragile. The president and the opposition party could not reach an agreement. Besides, if a war broke out, South Korea would suffer a great deal. Its capital Seoul takes up half of its national GDP, and it accommodates one quarter of the whole population of the country. However, it is within the reach of North Korea's weapons, particularly its guided missiles.
~There is also risk that war would break out. North Korea displayed its uranium enrichment in hopes to attract the attention of the U.S. If the U.S. ignores it, North Korea will push the conflict to a larger scale to provoke action. Thus a war could really break out, but nobody hopes it does. We hope both parties can control themselves and settle the problems through talks.
Original Article: [Chinese]

North Korea, South Korea and Japan all have their own Calculations about the Conflict
By Chen Yan, Senior Media Expert on Japan, Economic Observer Contributor
~Entering a period of economic recovery, South Korea has not loosened its sensationalism of its "Northern Threat". Its many versions of the explanation for the sinking of the Cheonan Warship have provided the world with an unclear explanation of what caused the warship to sink. Its repeated invitations to the US to conduct naval exercises in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea have left East Asian countries incapable of understanding the real intentions of the South Korean army.
~Japan has been the biggest beneficiary from the conflict between the two Koreas. As the approval rating of Japanese Prime Minister Kan Naoto dropped to lower than 20 percent, the tension on the peninsula gave him an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief. Japan's "hard-line" conduct regarding the peninsula crisis has given Japan's government a chance to get some bonus points. 
Original Article:  [Chinese]

North and South Korean "Cannon Dialogue" is a Northeast Asian Tragedy
By Global Times Commentator
~The conflict between North and South Korea on Wednesday rang alarm bells in Northeast Asia. In this conflict neither side will get the upper hand. They are both losers.
~Through its actions, North Korea showed a hardening of its attitude, which will never alleviate its economic difficulties.
~The whole of Northeast Asia should work on banishing the influence of the Cold War, thus eliminating North Korea's lack of security sense.
~China and South Korea should value the peace in Northeast Asia; they are both share a border with North Korea. If North Korea carries out nuclear explosion tests, both countries will be under the threat of nuclear pollution.
~Because North Korea keeps itself secluded from the world, it can only see the world in a narrow and limited way, so the outside world cannot judge its responses from a normal angle.
Original Article: [Chinese]

North Korea Attacks South Korea: China and Russia are Secretly Happy, U.S. Embarrassed
By Global Times Commentator
~South Korean leaders know that the situation on the peninsula is closely related to the international community. It would be silly to take action before knowing the attitude of the different parties involved.
~At this time, the U.S. is embarrassed. Obama needed to hold a security conference to discuss how to tackle the problem. Their first step is to blame North Korea. However, leaders of North Korea will pay no attention to the blame. On the other hand, the U.S. also wants to keep South Korea calm, which is very important to American interests.
Original Article: [Chinese]

Expert Advises Establishing a 30 Kilometer Buffer Zone in North Korea
The Global Times interviewed five experts to discuss where they think the tension in Korea is headed. One of the experts, Zhang Zuqian, Chinese Association for European Studies Vice-Secretary, stated that China should formulate a safety contingency plan:
"If the situation gets out of control, Chinese troops should establish a buffer zone inside North Korea within 20-30 kilometers of China's border to provide a place for North Korean refugees to settle within their own border. Once things have been settled China can withdraw its troops." 
Original Article: [Chinese]

China is the Main Victim of the Shelling
Li Kaisheng, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences PhD, Hunan Province Xiangtan University Professor
~After the shelling all diplomatic pressure was placed on China. Western countries unanimously called upon China to put a stop to North Korea's provocation, and if China does not take action to do so, they will tag China with the label of "irresponsible". Although surface-wise it seems that South Korea was the country most hurt by the shelling, and while the lives of four people are indeed precious, the possibility that both sides will go to war again is not high. South Korea is safe and its economy has not suffered in the least.
~China's losses have been vast. From an economic benefit standpoint, China's northeast is a persistently tense "gunpowder gate". China's economy which is completely dependent on foreign investment does not have the same ability to resist crisis as South Korea. The ports in Northeast Asia are limited, and the persisting crisis in Northeast Asia has become the greatest barrier to China's economic development of its northeast. 
Original Article: [Chinese]