China–North Korea Relations
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China–North Korea Relations

Between Development and Security

Edited by Catherine Jones and Sarah Teitt

Developing a new approach to exploring security relations between China and North Korea, this timely book examines China’s contradictory statements and actions through the lens of developmental peace. It highlights the differences between their close relationship on the one hand, and China’s votes in favour of sanctions against North Korea on the other, examining the background to this and its importance.
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Chapter 3: Who’s or whose China? In relation to North Korea

Catherine Jones


Representation of China and its relationship to North Korea (DPRK) form an essential element in understanding the dynamics of relations on the Korean peninsula. Over the last two decades China has been portrayed as being a ‘big brother’ to North Korea, an enduring ally and economic partner, but also a begrudging friend, frustrated partner and an implementer and approver of UN sanctions. Scholars, therefore, remain divided on the precise role of China in promoting peace and security in North East Asia. In expanding on the importance of this relationship, academics and commentators have only recently begun to explore the many different security actors within foreign policy in China and their effect on this particular bilateral relationship. Despite the embryonic natures of these debates, authors have presented a convincing argument that the literature on China and North Korea must move beyond assessments of Beijing as a unitary actor in order to capture the complexity of the relationship. This chapter builds on these works by exploring not only the security but also the development aspects of this multiplicity of actors, finding that in its representation China is doubly homogenised by external actors – to the detriment of being able to develop understanding of, and responses to, China’s policies.

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