Does China want a united Korea?

I think their has been some discussion in the upcoming Kim-Trump talks that the Chinese might try to spy or else get involved in the talks.

This brings up the question - would China WANT a united and Korea on its border even if the relationship was positive?

Consider for centuries Koreans and Chinese were enemies.

A united Korea on China’s border, without American troops there, is a natural satellite state of China. At best or worst, it is subject to Finlandization.

My understanding is no, they do not.

China has a few million ethnic Koreans in the northeast, and worry that a unified Korea will result in pushes for independence. Plus having a US friendly nation on their border isn’t in their interest either.

Overall, I’d say no. However I think the nuclear mountain collapsing, causing potential radiation clouds over China has really started to become the last straw for them, and they are pushing for denuclearization. But overall I think they prefer a separate Korea. I think.

I still don’t get why China doesn’t just establish a military coup in the Kim regime and just make it a new province.

It would dump millions of low wage people into the job market and harm their economy.

Would it? I thought China was dealing with a labor shortage now. They are starting to invest heavily in automation due to this.

unless they can bring the labor into their country it’s going to be a sudden dump of labor into the world market. If you were in East Germany would you want to merge back with West Germany or work for the Soviets?

North Korea has a population of 25 million.

Of them, many are not of age to work (too young or too old). Or they are out of the workforce due to childcare or education. As an assumption, assume only 14 million are actual working age and in the workforce.

But North Korea is a deranged hellhole. Physical and mental illness are common there, so of that 14 million I’m sure a lot of them are not able to work. So you may only have 7-11 million (as a guess) people who are actually healthy enough to work. Retardation (due to malnutrition) and physical illness are common there supposedly.

A number like that wouldn’t really affect Chinas labor market, I would assume as that is barely more than 1% of the side of China’s labor force.

China only cares about having a buffer state favorable to them. Whether or not it’s a united Korea or just North Korea doesn’t matter that much to them. United under the Kim dynasty is certainly preferable to them than a united Korea or North Korea closely allied with the US or any other country. I don’t think they’re looking with great favor on North Korea right now, but it’s still the best situation out of the likely options for them.

a) does not want a nuclear nutjob on their border
b) does not want millions of starving north Koreans pouring over the border
c) does want a vassel state
d) Korea has not been an enemy country, only a subjugated or submissive neighbor (for the most part of history with a few exceptions
e) ethnic Koreans in China are not a threat to China (I personally know several ethnic Korean families in the US and have spent multiple business trips in the “Korean” areas of China.
f) unified Korea has advantages in that China doesn’t have to economically prop up N Korea
g) unified Korea has disadvantages in that China won’t completely dominate the economy and the US has a military presence
I just spent a few days with some 50-60 year old S Koreans. They think Trump is doing a great thing. Hell, I think Trump is getting played, and I still think he’s doing a great thing.

Actually no one really wants a unified Korea. South Korea saw what happened with the two Germanies and that would be nothing compared to the problems which would occur with the Koreas.

In a previous thread, I did the actual math for Germany and Korea, comparing the difference between the per capita GDPs of the countries, as well as the percentage of the population between the communist and capitalist nations.

For the two Germanies, there was a significant difference between the two, but something like a 2:1 ratio. (I could be wrong about the numbers). The population of East Germany was only like a forth of the total of the two countries. Even so, it took well over a decade for Germany to recover after the reunification.

For Korea, both sets of numbers are much worse. North Korea has a population about half of that of the South, and the discrepancy between the two is considerably higher. The burden on South Korea would be tremendous.

I think Kim wants it, with him in charge, and I think that’s his plan and Trump is helping him.

The handful of South Koreans that I interact with think that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pretty awesome. President Moon met with Trump and a deal, flew back to Korea and landed with Trump doing his usual blow up, called his counterpart Kim, went to the border, and had a second meeting on the North Korean side. Now Trumpy is flying to Singapore to meet with Kim.

Personally, I think
a) Trump is being played
b) Kim has already “won” a couple of key points and legitimacy
c) This might even be a win win, and I give kudos to Trump, no matter how inconcieved, for talks and possibly even something positive. (Even though I think Trump is a Russian and/or Chinese lapdog that will be found to be guilty of treason. A broken clock is correct 2x a day, and may even be correct this time around.)

I am not so sure.

Certainly unifying the two Koreas would be a stress for South Korea same as you mentioned it was with Germany.

But like Germany I think it is something all would like to see done and probably something you just kinda have to do given the chance. There would be short term stress (at a guess a decade or two) but long term benefits having the peninsula united.

Besides, Seoul currently has some ridiculous number of artillery tubes from the north pointed at it. You don’t need nukes with that much firepower aimed at one place to do massive damage. I would think everyone in the south would feel better with that threat gone.

My personal speculations about what countries want as the resolution to the Korean divide:

China: Would like to see a united Korea without nuclear weapons or an American military presence. Korea, by itself, is not a threat to China in any conventional conflict. So it would end up as Chimera said; the East Asian equivalent of what Finland was to the Soviet Union.

North Korea: Would like to unify both Koreas under Pyongyang’s rule. This would give them a new country’s resources to spend and would strengthen the Kim regime. Of course, the Kim regime would have a hard time absorbing the south but I don’t think they are capable to seeing their own limitations.

South Korea: Wants a gradual approach. As TokyoBayer wrote, a quick unification under Seoul’s rule would probably overwhelm their economy. What they would like is to have the Kim regime replaced by a more benign government while remaining a separate country. Then the South could help build up the North until it was at a high enough level for a full reunification to be possible. I also think South Korea wants to keep American troops present to act as a counterbalance to China.

United States: Pretty much what South Korea wants.

This might be a slight hijack, but the factoid: “The Chinese fear a united Korea because they think it would mean a strong US military presence on their border” gets repeated everywhere. Is there any evidence for this?

It’s an irrational fear if so IMO.
A united korea is a long way off no matter what happens. And if it were to come about, and assuming the resulting country is inclined towards the US, the US has no particular reason to put much military infrastructure on the northern border sans provocation. Yes, we might want to spy on China, but that’s already the case, and indeed there are already military bases very near to mainland China.

I’m not sure how anyone could possible think that was true. Of course some people want it. From the wikipedia article on Korean Unification:

I don’t expect polling is possible in NK but I think we can assume that most everyone who escapes there or who wants to escape would like to see unification, as long as it meant getting rid of the totalitarian state that currently exists…

I think we are seeing China becoming a state that wishes mostly for wealth-building through trade. To that end, a unified – and stable – Korea would be the best thing for it.

I live in South Korea and used to live in China.

To Koreans, it’s an article of faith that the Koreas will be reunited a some point.

To the Chinese (the rank and file; I don’t know what the government thinks), Kim Jong Un is the punchline to a joke. A stable, prosperous, unified Korea would buy a lot of Chinese products and stop needing Chinese monetary support. The flow of North Korean refugees would stop cold, a good thing. And while South Korea has an ongoing relationship with the US, ultimately, China is on Korea’s border and the US is not.

China and Korea have been around for thousands of years. The US is a blip on the screen. East Asians have a far different concept of long-term planning than westerners do.

Eventually, yes, if it means a secure food supply. Right now all but Kim and his inner circle are a bit lower on the Hierarchy of Needs.

Without fear of an NK attack, there would be less *need *for a strong US presence in Korea. Another front in the Cold War would be closed.

Is that a desire, or just an expectation? I’ve been told by a couple of South Koreans that the people of the North “are my cousins, not my brothers” - meaning there’s an obligation to help them if they can someday, but not necessarily to take them into their own homes, so to speak.

That would also have been true for East Germany. After unification however a great many older ‘Ossis’ changed their minds and longed for the security and simplicity of the old regime. Many still do to this day.