It's not like the axe murders were the only incident. North Koreans would often attempt to kidnap ROK and US soldiers. Kim Il-sung wanted the US out of the Korean peninsula because he wanted to invade again, as he had lost face by invading the South in 1950 only to be thrown back to the Yalu river, forcing China to save him and his fledgling dictatorship. Of course his plan to regain face included lying to the North Korean populace, telling them that the US and the ROK were the ones who actually invaded. At the time of the axe murders, the DPRK had been pressuring UN ambassadors to pass a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the United States from the Korean peninsula, but after the murders, sympathy was present only in China and a few other like-minded countries.
The snarling statecraft of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il, continued in the placement of artillery just north of the DMZ well within range of Seoul. In 2003, there were 13,000 artillery pieces and 650 ballistic missiles, many with chemical or biological munitions. The situation is worse today. We should never have allowed this situation to develop into a threat to Seoul. As soon as we saw that the DPRK was building hardened shelters for artillery, we should have destroyed them all. China would have vociferously complained, but it could not have interfered because it was a paper tiger.
And now we have the situation where North Korea has built nuclear weapons and is busily miniaturizing them for use in missiles. Its missile program is rapidly reaching the point where it will be able to accurately strike US territory, not to mention hitting targets in South Korea, Japan, and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. It took many launches for the US and the Soviet Union to learn the intricacies of missile guidance and we could have denied the DPRK that knowledge by destroying them on the launch pad. We have dug ourselves a deep hole.
China tells the world it is displeased with the DPRK's antics, but in truth the situation is quite acceptable to China because North Korea continues to serve as a buffer zone against the West. China plays the game because it is earning tremendous dividends via its being the manufacturer for the West, especially the US, but also the EU. A number of people naively believe that sanctions will force North Korea into being a civilized country, but sufficient quantities of luxury goods always seem to cross the Chinese border destined for the elite. Sanctions have been of limited value because China only inspects around 5% of the trucks entering North Korea. China has supplied oil and coal for years to prevent the DPRK from imploding and keep ROK and US forces south of the 38th parallel.
"Sanctions against South Africa worked because it was a democracy. They had to take into account what their own people were thinking. Sanctions don't work when a leader can ignore the views of the common people, which is the case with North Korea," said North Korea expert Andrei Lankov. Sanctions will not work against an absolute dictatorship, especially one which thinks nothing of using people with bad attitudes as slave laborers in concentration camps and mines.
The current leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, has transferred so much of the country's resources to its nuclear program that the army is no longer the fearsome force it used to be. Most solders are being used as "soldier-builders" to build even more monuments to the three Kims, as well as a water park and a ski resort. Soldiers have been sent to Kuwait and Qatar to earn money for Kim's nuclear program. Soldiers and Pyongyang residents are being forced to work as construction workers on at least 60 buildings so Kim can thumb his nose at the UN and its sanctions. Not to mention its trading in rhino horns and elephant tusks.
China is a willing participant in all of this because it deports North Koreans "despite the gross human rights violations awaiting [them]," with torture, imprisonment, forced abortions, and executions being common punishments. As I wrote before in my introduction to The demise and resurrection of North Korea: "The UN Refugee Convention was originally drafted in 1951, with a 1967 Protocol. China signed both in 1982. China signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1987. These treaties expressly forbid the deportation of refugees back to a country where they will be tortured, imprisoned, and executed, which is exactly what happens to North Koreans when they are returned to the DPRK. Both treaties were signed well after China replaced the ROC in the UN in 1971, so China cannot claim that it inherited conditions of which it was unaware."
Fu Ying chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress and the Academic Committee of China's Institute of International Strategy, and was the Chinese ambassador to the UK from 2007 to 2009. On July 8, just four days before the highly anticipated ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague regarding China's outlandish claims in the South China Sea, she wrote in The Telegraph:
"But for China, especially in the eyes of the general public, the core concern is the sovereignty over Nansha and the surrounding water. Nansha is the most southern group of islands and shoals of the four archipelagos in the South China Sea. The Chinese people firmly believe that we own those land features and have done since the ancient times ... More and more Chinese people now believe that the US is behind the countries that are undermining China's interest ... I don't see why China and the US should enter into geopolitical rivalry. That could lead to a prolonged power fight, and the world has seen so much of that."
On July 12, the court announced that China's historical claims are laughable, as it claims territory that is only a couple of hundred miles from the Philippines, yet lies around one thousand miles from China.The next day, China announced an air defense zone over its claims, which not coincidentally are rich in oil and gas.
"We hope that other countries don't use this opportunity to threaten China, and hope that other countries can work hard with China, meet us halfway, and maintain the South China Sea's peace and stability and not turn the South China Sea into a source of war," said Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo that China's stance on the South China Sea was completely in line with international law.
Whether or not China got the idea from Russian President Vladimir Putin's little green men is not known, but it is true that China has created what US Naval War College Professor Andrew Erickson calls China's little blue men, referring to its naval militia masquerading as fishermen. These militia members prevent fishermen from other countries, especially those who live in the neighborhood, from accessing the islands on which China is building runways and other infrastructure.
China steals fish from fishermen all over the world. The waters off Guinea, which does not have the resources to defend its waters, are being sucked dry of fish by Chinese trawlers. More than a third of all fish caught in the waters off the coast of West Africa is illegal, unreported, or unregulated. One reason Chinese fishermen are in the waters of Guinea is the "most prized fish in Asia; the yellow croaker." Most of the Chinese vessels are bottom trawlers which rip up coral and oyster beds, taking everything in their path. It's not remotely efficient, with "up to 90% of the catch [being] thrown back into the sea often already dead," according to Greenpeace.
China has been increasing both the size and quality of its navy for many years.
Admiral Liu Huaqing was China's naval commander 1982-87 and later vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. Alan M. Wachman, the author of Why Taiwan? Geostrategic Rationales for China's Territorial Integrity, noted: "It was Liu who articulated the significance of putting to sea a 'blue water' navy that would be capable of 'offshore defense' and dominate the seas'" out to 1,800 miles from China's coast. In a book review of Wachman's book in Parameters, the US Army War College quarterly magazine, in 2008, Richard Halloran explained:
"Not so incidentally, Guam is 1,800 miles from China's coast and on a mid-Pacific line to which the Chinese intend to expand their naval and air power. Chinese admirals are already looking beyond that line, one having recently suggested to Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of US forces in the Pacific and Asia, that China and the United States split the Pacific Ocean down the middle. China would patrol the western half with the aircraft carriers the Chinese navy intends to build while the United States would be responsible for security in the eastern half. Admiral Keating, politely but firmly, allowed as how America was not about to be pushed out of the western Pacific."
China has stolen a great deal of technology from the West, including much of the design for the F-35 (China calls its version the J-20), cyber-thefts from European defense giant EADS (now Airbus Group) and industrial conglomerate corporation ThyssenKrupp, the cyber-theft of a German-designed magnetic levitation train, and railway technology gathered together from Siemens, Alstom, Bombardier, and Kawasaki and used to create the new train from China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock (CSR), the Hexie. China's soon-to-be-sold airliner, the C919, will end Boeing and Airbus' sales in China and parts of Asia.
"Dozens of Chinese manufacturers are shamelessly copying our machines," said Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Weinig AG, a German company that's been manufacturing machine tools for the Chinese market since 1997. He's constantly discovering copies of his firm's products at trade shows. "And when I point this out to the Chinese in their booths, they're not even embarrassed. On the contrary. They're proud of the quality of their copies and want to know how they can improve them even further."
CSR deputy chief engineer Lu Renyuan gave a perfect synopsis of Chinese national thinking. "Deutsche Bahn thinks first and foremost about Deutsche Bahn, and Siemens first and foremost about Siemens. But, in China, each person thinks about how we can all advance our nation together."
The NSA's spying bothers e-children because they're worried they will get in trouble for trading child porn and stolen movies, but "the United States doesn't steal Chinese technologies and give it to US companies," said James Lewis, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
FBI Director James Comey said China was seeking to obtain "information that's useful to them so they don't have to invent."
And in an ironic twist, North Koreans have been ordered to partake of China's style of industrial espionage, with the targets including China.
"[Kim Jong-un] told top executives that this was an expansion of a secret operation to introduce new cutting-edge technologies that were brought in from advanced nations," a source told RFA, with the spies being called "patriots" by Kim.
"North Korean authorities told them not to hesitate to use every method possible, including buying or hacking to gather classified information about cutting-edge technology," a trader told RFA.
Mike Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said: "The Chinese get over 40% of their oil from the Middle East through the Persian Gulf, but have you ever seen a Chinese aircraft carrier sitting inside the Persian Gulf?"
Call the freeloading China's bluff in the South China Sea.