PLA soldiers conduct a drill at Yanbian near the border with North Korea. (Photo/Xinhua)
An 84-page report published by the US Congress says China remains a potential obstacle for the unification of the Korean peninsula, the Seoul-based Yonhap news agency reports.
The report suggests that it is unlikely that North and South Korea may reunify in the manner of West and East Germany because of Beijing's growing influence in the region, according to Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN). From a historical point of view, the Korean peninsula was always considered a buffer zone for China against foreign invasion and thus Beijing would be loath to welcome a reunification under a pro-American Seoul government.
Furthermore, it is not in China's national interests to face a strong and unified Korea on its northeastern border, the report said. Territorial disputes between Beijing, Pyongyang and Seoul occur frequently over the Chinese-Korean border. "China may try to impede the reunification of the two Koreas, which have been divided for more than 60 years, or seek to play a major role in a reunified Korea," said the report. "Disputes about the Korea-China borderline are historic and endless."
To maintain regional stability and prevent the collapse of the Stalinist regime in the North, Chinese officials told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that China reserves the right to place PLA troops across the border inside North Korea, which would also be a means to prevent floods of refugees crossing the border into China. "These plans have been described not as an invasion, but as a preemptive move that will be taken in consultation with North Korean authorities," the official said.
The report also focused on the dispute between Beijing and Seoul regarding the historical position of North Korea. While Beijing maintains that North Korea was a part of China in antiquity, Seoul maintains that the ancient Korean kingdoms existed in the northern part of the peninsula and were separate from China.
The report was published to prepare the US response if a thaw in relations between the two Koreas should initiate a reunification process or if the Kim Jong-un regime should suddenly collapse.