The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 19      May 15, 2017

(front page)

Washington, Beijing put squeeze on North Korea

Washington is continuing to press for an alliance with Beijing as it pursues its decades long efforts to force the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear and long-range missile programs. It is preparing a new round of punishing sanctions on the DPRK, sanctions that hit working people the hardest.

Washington tries to paint North Korea as a pariah regime and the war threat in the region. But it is the U.S. rulers who have an over 70-year record of aggression and violence against the people of the Korean Peninsula.

Washington invaded and occupied Korea at the end of World War II, dividing it in half over the opposition of the vast majority of the population North and South; led a devastating war against the people of the North that ended in a stalemate; and to this day stations over 28,000 troops in the South, backed up by 49,000 in Japan.

North Korea attempted a ballistic missile test flight April 28, but the launch failed.

Washington has a formidable arsenal of nuclear weapons worldwide, capable of travelling thousands of miles, as well as one of its aircraft carrier fighting groups in the region.

But contrary to the hysteria of much of the liberal media, this display of U.S. firepower is not aimed at starting a military conflict, but is just one component of Washington’s broader efforts aimed at getting North Korea to back down. President Donald Trump is “doing everything diplomatically, economically and militarily” to achieve Washington’s goals, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said May 1.

Washington used the April 28 meeting of the United Nations Security Council to increase the isolation of the DPRK. Since 2006, the U.N. has maintained sanctions against North Korea. Washington needs China on board if it is to tighten the noose further. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged rigorous enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of new penalties. He threatened to add U.S. sanctions on companies and individuals that violate U.N. measures by trading with the DPRK.

The U.S. rulers see North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons as an obstacle to imposing their dictates across the region. Washington has an estimated 6,800 nuclear weapons and the DPRK has 10.

As part of their discussions on joint measures against North Korea, Beijing keeps pressing the U.S. to abandon the Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense radar and anti-missile system it has installed in South Korea. The Pentagon announced the system was operational as of May 2.

Beijing sees the missile system as a spy station that violates Chinese sovereignty. On April 28, Trump demanded that South Korea pay for the system. Moon Jae-in, the leading candidate in South Korea’s upcoming presidential election, says THAAD unnecessarily antagonizes China and if elected he will review its installation.

In recent years Beijing has accelerated the construction of military bases on islands across the South China Sea in the face of disputed sovereignty claims made by Vietnam, the Philippines and a number of other governments in the region. Trillions of dollars of world trade passes through this sea.

Asked if the U.S. Navy would resume “freedom of navigation” patrols it has conducted in these waters to counter China’s threat to Washington’s domination of trade there — a key plum from the U.S. rulers’ victory in World War II — a government official told Reuters the administration would wait to see what backing it got from Beijing in pressing North Korea.

Beijing is relentlessly expanding its interests in other parts of Asia. The Financial Times warned that the U.S. should not “cede its influence over its unreliable ally [Pakistan] to Beijing.” China is constructing railways, roads and pipelines from its western border to Pakistan’s southern ports. With International Monetary Fund creditors breathing heavily down their necks, the Pakistani rulers were able to stave off a currency crisis last year with Chinese loans.

No power can challenge Washington’s dominant place in the imperialist world order, but it is in decline and increasingly needs allies to advance its interests. Washington remains determined to try and contain China’s growing power, but needs its backing today to squeeze the North Korean regime.
Related articles:
US hands off Korea! For nuclear free Pacific!
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home