In highly sensitive discussions in February this year, the-then South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, told a US ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, that younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regarded North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and would not risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula
• South Korea’s vice-foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
• China’s vice-foreign minister told US officials that Pyongyang was behaving like a “spoiled child” to get Washington’s attention in April 2009 by carrying out missile tests.
• A Chinese ambassador warned that North Korean nuclear activity was “a threat to the whole world’s security”.
• Chinese officials assessed that it could cope with an influx of 300,000 North Koreans in the event of serious instability, according to a representative of an international agency, but might need to use the military to seal the border.
South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, said the PRC would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a ‘benign alliance’ – as long as Korea was not hostile towards China. Tremendous trade and labour-export opportunities for Chinese companies, Chun said, would also help ‘salve’ PRC concerns about … a reunified Korea.
A senior Chinese official, speaking off the record, also said China’s influence with the North was frequently overestimated. But Chinese public opinion was increasingly critical of the North’s behaviour, the official said, and that was reflected in changed government thinking.