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China's North Korea Conundrum

Recorded on February 28, 2006

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

For a country with a highly unstable, economically devastated, and politically unpredictable nuclear weapon state on a key border, China seems remarkably unperturbed by North Korea. Beijing asserts that a prime foreign policy goal is "a denuclearized Korean peninsula," but it tempers this hope with another goal - peace and stability in North Korea. Can China live with a nuclear North Korea? Are there parallels with China's stance on a nuclear Iran? Can China tolerate a proliferated international system in which authoritarian and totalitarian states have nuclear weapons but the democracies do not? Can the United States? These and other questions will be examined by our panelists, as they assess China's strategic considerations in the North Korean Nuclear Conundrum.