14 October 2004

China-Korea Border Issues

NKZone notes reports from Japanese and French news agencies that China has deployed either 10,000, 30,000, or 150,000 troops along the North Korean-Chinese border, either within Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture or all along the 1400-km border--or perhaps both.

It's unclear whether the Chinese troops were deployed to prevent (a) NK troops and/or refugees from escaping into China and causing embarrassing international incidents, (b) NK troops from "foraging" among ethnic Koreans in China, or (c) NK from undermining 6-party talks about NK nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, the Marmot reports that South Korea has quietly declared null and void the 1909 Gando [Kanto] Convention, signed between China and Japan.
This is either incredibly bold or incredibly insane – I haven't decided which yet, but I'm heavily favoring the latter....

What was interesting about this all – aside from the fact that the Republic of Korea has apparently adopted as its official position that a fairly sizable chunk of Manchurian territory belong to Korea – is the way the story was broke[n]....

OhMyNews ... says that many scholars in Korea consider much of Liaoning Province south of Shenyang as "West Gando," so one could interpret the government's official position as meaning that the whole of what is now southern Manchuria is, in fact, Korean territory....

I don't know what to say, other than this is a very dangerous game the government's playing, especially at a time when Seoul's relations with Pyongyang, Washington and Tokyo are not the best they've ever been. Now is probably not the time to poke Beijing in the eye, especially if one holds any hope at all that the Chinese might be helpful in the re-unification process should North Korea appear on the verge of collapse. And if one day, Korean tourists in Shenyang should find Pyongyang included on Liaoning Provincial maps, they'll understand why.

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