Tuesday, September 30, 2008

StrategyPage makes an interestring prediction about North Korea:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il apparently fell ill last April, and months of treatment left him unable to continue nuclear disarmament negotiations. It's unclear if he is back at work, but no one else seems to be able to make decisions.

Meanwhile, the Chinese have better connections inside North Korea, but apparently do not share a lot of information with anyone else. Defectors from North Korea believe that the Chinese will take over if it appears that the North Korean government is about to fall apart. The Chinese plan to install pro-Chinese North Koreans as head of a new "North Korean" government, and institute the kind of economic reforms they have been urging the North Korean to undertake for over a decade. The Chinese do not want North Korea to merge with South Korea, nor do they want North Korea to collapse (and send millions of starving refugees into northern China.

China and South Korea both want North Korea to stay independent, and harmless. Thus China is willing to unofficially annex North Korea, knowing that the South Koreans would go along with this as long as the fiction of North Korean independence were maintained.

South Korea won't admit this, but most South Koreans know that absorbing North Korea would put a big dent in South Korean living standards. That is more unpopular than any other outcome.
As my wife told me, it's pretty pathetic when China has to come into a country and be the agent of free market economic reforms...