DE RUEHUL #0272/01 0530932
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 220932Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7125
INFO RUCNKOR/KOREA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7305
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 7377
S E C R E T SEOUL 000272
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2034
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KNNP, ECON, SOCI, KS, KN, JA, CH
SUBJECT: VFM CHUN YOUNG-WOO ON SINO-NORTH KOREAN RELATIONS
Classified By: AMB D. Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).
1. (S) Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo told the
Ambassador February 17th that China would not be able to stop
North Korea's collapse following the death of Kim Jong-il
(KJI). The DPRK, Chun said, had already collapsed
economically and would collapse politically two to three
years after the death of Kim Jong-il. Chun dismissed ROK
media reports that Chinese companies had agreed to pump 10
billion USD into the North's economy. Beijing had "no will"
to use its modest economic leverage to force a change in
Pyongyang's policies -- and the DPRK leadership "knows it."
It was "a very bad thing" that Wu Dawei -- whom Chun
characterized as "the most incompetent official in China" --
had retained his position as chief of the PRC's 6PT
delegation. Describing a generational difference in Chinese
attitudes toward North Korea, Chun claimed Vice Foreign
Minister Cui Tiankai and another senior PRC official from the
younger generation both believed Korea should be unified
under ROK control. Chun acknowledged the Ambassador's point
that a strong ROK-Japan relationship would help Tokyo accept
a reunified Korean Peninsula. End summary.
VFM Chun on Sino-North Korean Relations...
2. (S) During a February 17 lunch hosted by Ambassador
Stephens that covered other topics (septel), ROK Vice Foreign
Minister and former ROK Six-Party Talks (6PT) Head of
Delegation Chun Yung-woo predicted that China would not be
able to stop North Korea's collapse following the death of
Kim Jong-il (KJI). The DPRK, Chun said, had already
collapsed economically; following the death of KJI, North
Korea would collapse politically in "two to three years."
Chun dismissed ROK media reports that Chinese companies had
agreed to pump 10 billion USD into the North's economy; there
was "no substance" to the reports, he said. The VFM also
ridiculed the Chinese foreign ministry's "briefing" to the
ROK embassy in Beijing on Wang Jiarui's visit to North Korea;
the unidentified briefer had "basically read a Xinhua press
release," Chun groused, adding that the PRC interlocutor had
been unwilling to answer simple questions like whether Wang
had flown to Hamhung or taken a train there to meet KJI.
3. (S) The VFM commented that China had far less influence on
North Korea "than most people believe." Beijing had "no
will" to use its economic leverage to force a change in
Pyongyang's policies and the DPRK leadership "knows it."
Chun acknowledged that the Chinese genuinely wanted a
denuclearized North Korea, but the PRC was also content with
the status quo. Unless China pushed North Korea to the
"brink of collapse," the DPRK would likely continue to refuse
to take meaningful steps on denuclearization.
...China's "Most Incompetent" Official...
4. (S) Turning to the Six Party Talks, Chun said it was "a
very bad thing" that Wu Dawei had retained his position as
chief of the PRC's delegation. It had been the ROK's
expectation that Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, who was
hastily transferred from Tokyo back to Beijing, would be
taking over from Wu. Chun said it appeared that the DPRK
"must have lobbied extremely hard" for the now-retired Wu to
stay on as China's 6PT chief. The VFM complained that Wu is
the PRC's "most incompetent official," an arrogant,
Marx-spouting former Red Guard who "knows nothing about North
Korea, nothing about nonproliferation and is hard to
communicate with because he doesn't speak English." Wu was
also a hardline nationalist, loudly proclaiming -- to anyone
willing to listen -- that the PRC's economic rise represented
a "return to normalcy" with China as a great world power.
...China's "New Generation" of Korea-Hands...
5. (S) Sophisticated Chinese officials like Cui Tiankai and
Chinese Communist Party Central Committee International
Department Vice Director Liu Jieyi stood in sharp contrast to
Wu, according to VFM Chun. Citing private conversations
during previous sessions of the Six Party Talks, Chun claimed
Cui and Liu both believed Korea should be unified under ROK
control. The two officials, Chun said, were ready to "face
the new reality" that the DPRK now had little value to China
as a buffer state -- a view that since North Korea's 2006
nuclear test had reportedly gained traction among senior PRC
...PRC Actions In A DPRK Collapse Scenario...
6. (S) Chun argued that, in the event of a North Korean
collapse, China would clearly "not welcome" any U.S. military
presence north of the DMZ. Again citing his conversations
with Cui Tiankai and Liu Jieyi, Chun said the PRC would be
comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and
anchored to the United States in a "benign alliance" -- as
long as Korea was not hostile towards China. Tremendous
trade and labor-export opportunities for Chinese companies,
Chun said, would also help salve PRC concerns about living
with a reunified Korea. Chun dismissed the prospect of a
possible PRC military intervention in the event of a DPRK
collapse, noting that China's strategic economic interests
now lie with the United States, Japan, and South Korea -- not
North Korea. Moreover, Chun argued, bare-knuckle PRC
military intervention in a DPRK internal crisis could
"strengthen the centrifugal forces in China's minority areas."
7. (S) Chun acknowledged the Ambassador's point that a strong
ROK-Japan relationship would help Tokyo accept a reunified
Korean Peninsula under Seoul's control. Chun asserted that,
even though "Japan's preference" was to keep Korea divided,
Tokyo lacked the leverage to stop reunification in the event
the DPRK collapses.