Washington: China, long viewed as North
Korea`s protector, increasingly doubts its own influence and would support the peninsula`s reunification if the regime
collapses, leaked US documents said.
Over an expansive dinner last year, the Chinese
ambassador to Kazakhstan revealed that Beijing considers North
Korea`s nuclear programme to be "very troublesome," said the
leaked cable by US Ambassador Richard Hoagland and reprinted
by Britain`s The Guardian newspaper yesterday.
Ambassador Cheng Guoping "said China hopes for
peaceful reunification in the long-term, but he expects the
two countries to remain separate in the short-term," according
to a memo obtained by whistle-blower site WikiLeaks.
In another cable reproduced by The New York Times, a
Chinese official whose name was removed said that Beijing
believed North Korea had "gone too far" after carrying out its
second nuclear test and firing a missile.
The official told a US diplomat "that Chinese
officials had expressed Chinese displeasure to North Korean
counterparts and had pressed (North Korea) to return to the
negotiation table," it said.
"Unfortunately," the Chinese official was quoted as
saying, "those protests had had no effect."
"The only country that can make progress with the
North Koreans is the United States," the Chinese official was
quoted as saying.
WikiLeaks has outraged the US government with its
massive release of sensitive data. The memos became public a
week after North Korea shelled a South Korean border island,
killing four people and sending tensions soaring.
In one of the most recent cables, South Korea`s then
foreign minister Yu Myung-Hwan is quoted as saying in January
that North Korea was "increasingly chaotic" and that a number
of high-ranking officials had defected.
The tensions come as North Korea`s reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il, who has suffered a stroke, prepares to hand over power to his little-known youngest son Kim Jong-Un, who is believed to be in his late 20s.
Dai Bingguo, China`s state councillor, is quoted in a
cable as telling US officials after a visit to Pyongyang that
Kim Jong-Il had lost weight but "appeared to be in reasonably
good health and still had a `sharp mind.`"
Kim said he still drank alcohol, saying that only
scheduling problems stopped the North Korean leader from
partaking with his guest in one of his legendary drinking
sessions, according to the cable.
Many US experts believe that China wants to preserve
the status quo on North Korea, fearing that a collapse would
trigger a flood of refugees and bring a united and US-allied
Korea to its border.