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Senior DPRK official says all of China is within range of North Korea’s missiles

By Katsuji Nakazawa, staff writer


A confidential statement made by a senior North Korean official that “the whole of China is now within the range of the DPRK’s ballistic missiles” has crossed the border to the Chinese side. While all eyes in the world are on whether North Korea will fire missiles toward Guam, actually, the fact that “the whole of China is now within the range of the DPRK’s nuclear missiles” is important for deciphering the tense situation from now on.


North Korea showed video footage that illustrated its intent. On May 21, a mid-range ballistic missile Pukkuksong-2 was fired from an inland location in the presence of Chairman Kim Jong Un. A camera installed on the missile filmed its takeoff and ascent from the ground. This was shown on the state-owned TV on the next day.


According to the analysis of a military expert, the video footage consistently showed the terrain inside Chinese territory. Even though the missile landed in the east in the Sea of Japan, the footage showed the west.


“China’s Liaodong Peninsula can be seen. To the west is the Bohai Sea and to the south, the Yellow Sea. Beijing is west of Bohai and could have been seen, but it was covered by heavy clouds. Toward the end, the video focused on the sky above Beijing.”


By showing the video of Chinese territory, “Kim Jong Un is threatening (President) Xi Jinping with the message that Beijing is also a target.” While it would be very difficult to attack the U.S. mainland, hitting Beijing would be very easy.


Nevertheless, North Korea clearly relies on China economically, not only for oil. It is impossible to live in North Korea without the Chinese products that inundate the market. Another source on China-North Korea relations voices the opinion: “Kim Jong Un thinks that the means to avoid becoming a semi-colony of China is nuclear weapons. Nuclear arms plus missiles will allow it to talk to an economically superior China on an equal footing.”


Establishing diplomatic relations with the U.S. is also a means to break away from dependency on China. That was also what China did in the past.


A commentary reflecting China’s displeasure appeared in the Aug. 11 issue of the Global Times. The two main points of this article are: (1) If North Korea fires missiles to intimidate the U.S. and the U.S. retaliates, China will maintain neutrality; and (2) China will resolutely prevent the U.S.-ROK alliance from changing the status quo on the Korean Peninsula with an armed attack.


The first point amounts to China’s refusal to abide by the provisions of the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty, meaning China will not provide military assistance even if North Korea is attacked. On the other hand, the second point means that the use of force remains an option. During the Korean War, when the U.S. and South Korean forces were approaching the China-North Korea border, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army crossed the Yalu River. This time, if the U.S. military advances into North Korean territory, the Chinese armed forces will probably do the same. (Abridged)

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