Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Korean Kwandry

I came home from work today with my wife watching a South Korean soap opera online. South Korean movies and TV are big here. Many Chinese prefer them to the homegrown stuff. I can see why, especially the TV, which the Chinese film with video cameras and just isn’t as racy or creative. You also see more than a few Kias and Hyundais on the road. Which brings me to the great Korean conundrum which China faces.
Hillary Clinton and 200 diplomatic minions just finished their big talk fest with the bigwigs here. One of the big topics of discussion was the sinking of the South Korean warship by the North Koreans. The US and everybody in the world want to penalize the North for this murderous act of war, and they want China onboard. China is being a bit dodgy about this. The reason is basically that North Korea has been China’s ally and little buffer buddy against the capitalists in the South and the thousands of US troops stationed there for 60 years. That’s the old school reasoning. That and face.
However in the last 20 years China has blossomed into a growing capitalist nation with lots of trading partners, like the US and South Korea, while North Korea remains stuck in a kind of dysfunctional Stalinist dictatorship which would have collapsed a long time ago if it didn’t get aid from China. I would venture to say that China has much more in common with South Korea these days, and they definitely have a more beneficial relationship. There is lots of South Korean manufacturing done in China, lots of Chinese stuff is sold in South Korea, and there's those cool cars and TV shows that the Chinese like.
It’s a lot like keeping a psychotic attack dog to guard your meth lab, only you stopped making meth, and you have greatly changed. You and your neighbors are friends now and you like doing business with them, but your stupid dog keeps biting them. Maybe it’s time to get rid of the dog.
China has a lot of scary neighbors, Afghanistan and Pakistan come to mind, and the reality is that a border with a less crazy North Korea, or even a unified Korea could be a much nicer thing than that nuclear armed loose cannon they keep now.