Last week I attended an excellent symposium at Victoria University of Wellington on the likely relationship between Donald Trump’s United States and Xi Jinping’s China and what evolving Sino-US ties might mean for the wider region, including Australia and New Zealand.
The keynote speaker was the former head of the Singaporean Foreign Service, Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan. His comments were most contentious on the US-China-DPRK issue.
In summary, Ambassador Kausikan said that China can’t put sufficient pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile programmes as this will cause the regime to collapse and this will in turn put the focus on China’s own regime. The US can’t attack the DPRK militarily as the consequences for South Korea and Japan would be devastating (including potentially millions dead). He also doubted that attempts to negotiate a peace treaty with the DPRK would be successful.