Changes in China’s North Korea Policy? Professor Zhu Feng Walks it Back

Zhu Feng is is one of the key Chinese voices when it comes to Beijing’s North Korea policy.  His body of work on this question is extensive, including media quotes as well as articles in both popular and scholarly outlets. Recently, Zhu’s writings and his quotations have cleaved toward a transformationalist vision of China’s policy toward North Korea, suggesting that Xi Jinping was ready to turn the corner on North Korea policy and “normalize” the alliance, stripping North Korea of its preferential treatment.

However, now the Beijing University professor appears to be dialing back expectations for such a change. As reported by The Korea Times:

Responding to professor [Moon Jae-in at Yonsei], Zhu Feng, an international relations professor at Peking University in Beijing, who also attended the EAF seminar said “Yes, there is some sort of difference [between Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping’s vision of denuclearlization] and they cannot disappear overnight.” “China is concerned about America’s strategy and policy. Concerning denuclearization, I see no difference. Chinese vocabulary has been the same for 20 years.”

The Chinese professor added that it will take time to see tangible changes in China’s foreign policy as it focuses more on domestic issues such as the narrowing down of income disparity.

“Any successful redirection of China’s foreign policy must be based on very successful domestic change. Without this there won’t be any welcoming change in China’s foreign policy,” said Zhu. “The apparent change in China’s foreign policy is largely due to the personal attractions of Xi.”

The floor remains open for discussion.

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