This page was archived on October 2020.


Regional and global issues

50 - Relations with China on North Korea

Grade: B
Unity 5/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 13/20
Scorecard 2013: B (13/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (11/20)

There was minimal EU-China cooperation on North Korea. While China distanced itself from its ally, the EU and Japan cooperated closely on human rights.

Both the EU and China addressed the issue of North Korea in 2014, but they did so independently rather than together. China’s tough stance towards North Korea has hardened since North Korea’s nuclear test in 2013. In 2014 it distanced itself further from the regime in Pyongyang and actually initiated a rapprochement with Seoul. Indeed, Chinese and South Korean leaders met on several occasions this year, and Xi Jinping visited South Korea before North Korea, which was a first. China remained committed to the Six-Party Talks to address Korean Peninsula issues – Xi Jinping even called it the “optimum” process to tackle proliferation. In January Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin made back-to-back trips to Pyongyang and Seoul to attempt to resume the talks.

Meanwhile, the EU continued and intensified its policy of critical engagement with North Korea. The EU and member states increased contacts at the official and civil society level (if it is possible to speak of civil society in North Korea). When High Representative Catherine Ashton visited Seoul in May and signed an agreement facilitating the participation of South Korea in EU crisis management operations, she and her counterpart discussed the issue of North Korea. In parallel, the EU worked closely with Japan on human rights issues in North Korea (see component 47). The EU and Japan referred North Korea to the ICC for crimes against humanity. As a result, however, talks with North Korea were halted in November. Finally, the EU also declared it remained committed to supporting Six-Party Talks as the only way ahead in addressing proliferation issues in Asia.