How a Unified Korea becomes a Win-Win for China and the U.S.

I subscribe to Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.  While finishing my morning exercise routine on the stationary bike, I read an essay written by Sung-Yoon Lee of Keeping the Peace: American in Korea 1950 – 2010.

Professor Lee is an adjunct assistant professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an associate in research at the Korea Institute at Harvard University.

He writes of the pressure North Korea has applied on the United States to sign a peace treaty that might require US troops to leave South Korea.  Professor Lee feels this would be a mistake, and I agree.

He says, “It is important for Washington to hold quiet consultations with Beijing to prepare jointly for a unified Korea under Seoul’s direction, a new polity that will be free, peaceful, capitalist, pro-U.S. and pro-China.”

This is the first I’ve read anywhere in a Western media source (and Hillsdale College is decidedly conservative in its political stance, which I don’t always agree with) that it is possible a country could be both pro-U.S. and pro-China at the same time.

In fact, Hillsdale College is often anti-leftist (liberal) and anti-entitlement to the point that it has rejected accepting Federal aid even in the form of student scholarships since almost every entitlement dollar from the Federal government comes with strings.

By saying that a unified Korea under Seoul would be both pro-China and pro-U.S. admits China is not the evil dragon so many in the West believe.

When Mao ruled China, North Korea and Communist China seemed as if they were evil twins.  However, today that is not true. In the 1980s, China emerged as a hybrid one-party republic with term limits and age limits so one man would never rule the Middle Kingdom again as Mao did for 26 years.

China became a hybrid capitalist-socialist economy while politically it was an authoritarian one party republic guided by the 1982 Constitution.

Prior to 1911, there was the imperial aristocracy, a “small” middle class (with an emphasis on small) and a huge peasant class living in severe poverty with hard labor and short life spans.

Today, China’s middle class has reached about 300 million and almost 500 million are connected to the Internet, and China’s attempt at censorship does not totally control the flow of global information to those that want it who then share what was learned through Chinese Blogs and e-mails with friends, fans and family.

North Korea is frozen in time, but South Korea and China have evolved and adapted to the global economy.  It would be in China’s interest to see North Korea merge with South Korea and become a capitalist nation open to the world for trade.

In fact, China does more trade with South Korea than the North, which by all accounts is a burden since China often feeds many of North Korea’s citizens to avoid famine sending food grown in China that should have gone to Chinese consumers.

If Korea is unified under Seoul’s leadership, the threat of war in Korea will evaporate.

However, under Pyongyang’s leadership. Korea becomes a larger threat to both China and the US and more difficult to contain.

The US must maintain a military pretense in South Korea and I’m sure China agrees even if it never says so publicly since a war between Pyongyang and Seoul would not be in China’s interest economically.

Learn of China in 1950 Korea Protecting the Teeth


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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7 Responses to How a Unified Korea becomes a Win-Win for China and the U.S.

  1. terry chen says:

    Thanks for telling me that. Americans always seem to be able to justify their expansionist ways. To think that they can complain about the situation in tibet and China after all this ‘democratic expansion’ is repulsive to say the least.

    • When you run into an American that justifies the expansion of the United States, that is an ignorant American. American expansion took place as an exercise in Imperial Democracy and the cost was wars and lost lives.

  2. terry chen says:

    They may lose money, but ultimately they would most probably become pro US. Koreans do not like how they were once part of China and an alliance with ‘their former bosses’ would be a big blow to national pride. The capital of korea used to be called han city, but they changed the name to seoul so as to destroy any links to its past with China. If the two koreas do reunite, south korea will most likely be the winner as they can tempt the north koreans with their higher living standard, sortof like how the US tempted the texans to become part of the united states.

    • The Texans in 1836 were not tempted to become part of the United States due to living standards, which in most of the US at that time wasn’t much different than most of Mexico. There was no electricity, no sanitary conditions and no antibiotics as there are today and surgeons did not even sanitize their surgical tools leading to much infection. Even during America’s Civil War (1861-1965), during and after battles, surgeons would use the same scalpels and saws stained with the blood of the previous surgeries and many died from infections.

      In fact, life expectancy was worse in major cities than in rural areas where people farmed or ranched, and the standards of living wouldn’t improve until after the spread of electricity (1935) and penicillin (discovered in 1928), and at the time of the American immigrant revolution in Texas (1836) there was no electricity anywhere in the world.

      What happened was that enough Americans moved into Texas as immigrants so when the revolution broke out against Mexico there were enough Americans to win it. They did the same thing in California and in Hawaii. Soon after American immigrants to California declared the “Bear Flag Revolt”, US troops arrived and claimed California as a territory of the US.

      In all three cases, Texas (1836), California (1846) and Hawaii (1890s), after the American immigrants were numerous enough in those territories, they won the revolutions and became a territory of the US before becoming states. All of this happened before today’s standard of living and higher life expectancy.

      Heck, when California became a territory of the US, the railroads were not even built from coast to coat, which would come later after the American Civil War.

  3. Terry K Chen says:

    I don’t care what wikileaks says, I’m pretty sure China does not want a unified Korea under Seoul. In the current world, a country is either pro-China or pro-US, there’s no third option. If there is a unified korea, chances are this new korea will just be another pro-US country and China would definitely not want that. It would rather prefer having part of korea being pro-Chinese than the entire korea being pro-US.

    • Good point.

      However, if South Korea had to make a choice between China and the US, the following facts may be a big part of the decision.

      Primary export partners with South Korea: China (23.2 percent of total exports), US (10.1 percent), Japan (5.8 percent), Hong Kong (5.3 percent)

      Total value of imports: US$ 417.9 billion

  4. business says:

    After the 7th century Goguryeo was constantly at war with the and dynasties of China..Founded around modern day the southwestern kingdom expanded far beyond during the peak of its powers in the 4th century. By the 660s Silla formed an alliance with the Tang Dynasty of China to conquer Baekje and later Goguryeo. As a result of the Sino-Japanese War 1894 1895 the Qing Dynasty had to give up such a position according to Article 1 of the which was concluded between China and Japan in 1895.

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