Who’s Or Whose China? In relation to North Korea

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The representation of China and its relationship to North Korea (DPRK) forms an essential element in understanding the dynamics of relations on the Korean peninsula. Over the last two decades China’s has been portrayed as being both a ‘big brother’ to North Korea, an enduring ally, and an economic partner, but also a begrudging friend, frustrated partner, and an implementer and (reluctant?) approver of UN. Scholars, therefore, remain divided on the precise role of China in promoting peace and security in Northeast Asia. In expanding on the importance of this relationship academics and commentators have recently begun to explore the effect of many different security actors within foreign policy in China on this particular bilateral relationship (Gray and Lee, 2018; Cathcart, 2018; Jones, 2015). 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 then builds on these works by exploring not only the security but also 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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChina-North Korea Relations: between development and security
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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