North Korea and Pakistan are collaborators when it comes to acquiring and proliferating nuclear and ballistic missile technology clandestinely and both these nations have publicly threatened their respective neighbours with a nuclear strike regularly.
Pakistan and North Korea are not democratic countries and the military is the number one institution that uses all their resources. It is also a well-known fact that both the nations are supported and sustained by China. China has been supporting these two failed nations to curtail the influence of India, America and Japan in the region.
China the world’s second largest economy and last communist power country
China is not only a very big country but also over the years, due to its sound economic policies is now a global economic powerhouse and has maximum number of billionaires. China has the world’s largest military with some of the most advanced weaponry at hands making it the replacement of the old Soviet Union which fell in 1991 and a direct competitor of U.S. But the one difference between the erstwhile Soviet Union and China is economic policy. Due to economic reforms, China now has the capital to influence the policy of other nations. Pakistan and North Korea are prime examples.
China and Pakistan
Both India and Pakistan share borders with China. In 1962, India went to war with the eastern giant and was beaten badly because it was not prepared politically and militarily. It was a sad time for a young nation that emerged from the shadows of slavery after one thousand years. Since then India has never had any serious hostility with China except the unresolved border issues. But with Pakistan, India had to fight four wars since partition and for the last thirty years India has had to continually endure asymmetrical warfare in the Kashmir Valley which has claimed the lives of thousands of security personals and civilians. The cost of maintaining a large army and Para-Military presence in that region takes a chunk out of India’s GDP. But it is not only important, but also necessary. Considering the economic burden that the instability has put on India, it does not come as a surprise that China doesn’t want the conflict between India and Pakistan to be resolved.
At present, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is going ahead so China can have access to the Arabian Sea and the Strait of Hormuz where about twenty per cent of the world's petroleum passes through the strait. This area will play a vital role in the geo-politics of the future because of its strategic location for international trade. CPEC is supposed to bring prosperity to Pakistan but many Pakistanis would agree that they are now simply surrendering and becoming slave to China. But the decision makers in Pakistan know better and as long as their bank accounts are regularly replenished, there will not be ay dissent. But India cares because the route runs through the disputed territory of Pakistan occupied Kashmir which legally belongs to India and through the largest and the richest Pakistani province Balochistan where its natives are denied their rights and butchered by Pakitan security and hired non-state actors.
So why not keep India and Pakistan busy with each other as the trucks and goods train will roll back and forth from the Gwadar port in Balochistan through the Karakoram Range and into China. Why change the status quo?
China and North Korea
The relationship between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) has been in place when both these countries got its independence after the end of Second World War. Both the countries were ruled by dictators and their words became the law of the land. It did not matter if people had any food as both the communist nations followed the principals of “Songun Chongch'i” which in Korean means military first. Although after the death of Chairman Mao Tse Tung China got into an aggressive economic recovery program but in North Korea it seems time stood still. Kim Il Sung ruled for forty six years and after him his son Kim Jong-il took over and now this Orwellian state is ruled by the grandson Kim Jong-Un.
Lot of people may not know this, but the Korean War never actually ended and it is still the world’s longest cease fire agreement on the 38th parallel line. The Americans are still there and yes the fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed and the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea was created. But no peace treaty was signed, and the two Koreas along with America are technically still at war where tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers also had fought and died. America is still an ally of North Korea and China still gives the occasional support to North Korea but economic realities my force China to rethink its strategy
America has just sent its powerful navel armada and one can call it saber rattling consisting of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier battle group to the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese are calling for restraint. However on the other hand they are diplomatically sympathetic to America issuing statement of condemnation when the North tested its ballistic missiles. This way they score economic points and North Korea will still be on the map.
What is the end game?
Pakistan recently said it would declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province because CPEC runs through this area but India still maintains that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and legally still an integral part of the country forcefully occupied. The people in this region and in Balochistan do not share good relations to put it lightly with the Punjabi and Urdu speaking Sunni Muslim majority because their resources are taken forcefully with no benefit to the local populace. People of both North Korea and South Korea would love to reunite as a country but China would lose an important proxy in that region which from time to time can hold the world to ransom. The same can be said about Pakistan. For China, Pakistan and North Korea are the counterbalance against India and America but the question is for how long? Both countries have an itchy trigger finger and both survive under the blanket of its nuclear deterrence, but again for how long?
Could the attack dog turn on its own master one day?
Already China faces terror attacks in its Uyghur province which is dominated by Muslims of Turkic lineage and supported by terror groups operating in Pakistan. With North Korea, if the west puts the squeeze on them and China allows it, it would not come as a surprise if DRPK turns on China. It’s unlikely but still possible. However until then China will use Pakistan against India and North Korea against America as its proxy to maintain status quo in the region.