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

March 21, 2011

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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