China and Sino-North Korean Relations

Kevin Gray is with the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex in the UK and Jong-Woon Lee is with the Arete College of Liberal Arts at the Far East University in South Korea. They have a new article published online with JCA.

Kevin Gray

The Rescaling of the Chinese State and Sino-North Korean Relations: Beyond State-Centrism” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1377279) is a timely article that looks at the broad political economy of China’s relations with North Korea.

The article’s abstract states:

Jong-Woon Lee

While Beijing has repeatedly signed up to multilateral sanctions against North Korea, it is widely regarded as having failed to enforce them. Indeed, China’s deepening economic engagement with the country has led observers to debate the causes of this seemingly duplicitous approach. Constructivist and realist approaches have relied on state-centric frameworks that serve to reduce Sino-North Korean relations to the high politics of Beijing-Pyongyang diplomacy in the context of broader geopolitical dynamics. This article argues that such approaches pay insufficient attention to the profound rescaling of the Chinese state in recent years and the implications this process has for bilateral relations. This article sheds light on how Sino-North Korean relations are being driven by actors at multiple scales and by a multitude of objectives as a result of decentralisation and marketisation alongside increasing geographical unevenness within China and new challenges to continued capital accumulation. North Korea has come to play an increasingly important role in efforts to facilitate economic recovery in the northeastern border regions through serving as spatial fix for Chinese manufacturing capital. These new cross-border flows of capital and labour suggest an emerging pattern of Sino-North Korean relations that is by no means static but in considerable flux.

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