North Korea’s patrons in Beijing appear paralyzed by conflicting strategic priorities during the current crisis, although the Communist Party organ Global Times did publish an editorial declaring that China would remain neutral if North Korea starts a war but intervene on North Korea’s behalf if the U.S. and South Korea attempt a preemptive strike.
The Chinese government may eventually seek some diplomatic wiggle room by insisting the Global Times is but a newspaper printing an editorial, and the piece is written in the style of newspaper editors lecturing officials about what they “should” do, but few outside observers would be willing to pretend that China’s state-run media is anything but a mouthpiece for its authoritarian government. The Washington Post is among many media outlets that regard the Global Times editorial as an official message directed at Pyongyang.
To the extent that anything about the current standoff can be taken as humorous, it is amusing to read the Global Times portraying North Korea as the aggrieved party taking a desperate gamble to “propel the U.S. to negotiate with it,” as if the civilized world has not indulged North Korea with decades of negotiations.
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