[Ann Arbor = MiAsian] Tack-Yong Kim = Ambassador Christopher Hill talked about North Korea at the Josh Rosenthal Education Fund Lecture at the University of Michigan on January 25.
During the lecture, ‘Dayton to Pyongyang: On the frontlines of U.S. Diplomacy’, Professor John Ciorciari asked what the next step would be and if there is any hope for a deal with North Korea, especially after that country’s alleged detonation of an H-bomb..
Ambassador Christopher Hill, who negotiated with the North Koreans as Assistant Secretary of State in the context of the Six Party Talks, said “These are people only a mother can love, believe me. I mean, I’ve never had such an unpleasant experience”.
However, he said “We were right to engage and I think President Bush was not only right but he was courageous to engage.” President Bush was, at that time, opposed by half the Republican Party in supporting any kind of negotiation with North Korea.
Hill reflected, “We had a double-header going in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secondly, if you looked at polling data in South Korea, some 50% of South Koreans in 2004 were blaming the United States and blaming our truculent behavior and blaming our lack of interest in negotiation as being the reason why North Korea was pursuing nuclear weapons.”
Even though North Korea is not interested in negotiations, Hill suggested China as a major part of the solution. He believes that the US needs to have a deep dive with the Chinese. “I think to some extent we need to have that deep dive in the context that the U.S., contrary to what many Chinese in their communist and security service apparatus believe, we are not interested in taking strategic advantage of China. We are not interested in a unified Korea such that U.S. troops would be on the Yalu River. He added “We are interested in a unified Korea, if that’s what Koreans want, and we support our friend and ally. But we are not interested in them in order to put pressure on China by putting listening posts or other things that many of these Chinese security people believe that we are doing.”
Hill believes that “Too many Chinese, especially in this security world think that this would be a victory for America and a defeat for China. And so for many Chinese, if North Korea is to fail, and that’s what Chinese believe, if they really put pressure on them they’ll go under. They see this as something that would resonate and have a sort of echo effect within China itself. Where people would start saying, well, you know, our communist neighbors are down, why are we still pretending we have a communist system? It would have an echo on their internal issues.”