|Jeff Bader, former senior director for East Asian affairs at the National Security Council. (Yonhap News)|
Jeffrey Bader emphasized such cooperation is “critical” as the North Korean regime proves increasingly unpredictable.
“My own view is that the U.S., South Korea and China need to be talking about future scenarios in the Korean Peninsula, including instability in North Korea,” he said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency.
Bader played a key role in crafting the Obama administration’s policy on Northeast Asia in its early years. He served as senior director for East Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council for two years from January 2009.
Recalling his stint at the White House, Bader said, U.S. officials wanted to have “contingency discussions with the Chinese” on North Korea.
“I think we did them with the South Koreans bilaterally. We didn’t have three-way. China, historically, has been reluctant to do so for reasons we all know,” he said.
China is North Korea’s last-remaining communist ally and major supplier of food and energy aid.
Experts agree that China hopes to keep the North alive as a sort of buffer against the U.S. influence in the region. Beijing is also concerned about a potential massive inflow of North Korean refugees in case it collapses, they point out.
Since China’s disappointment has grown over the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, conditions have improved for discussions with China on Pyongyang’s future, said Bader.
China’s leadership is reportedly displeased with the unpredictability of the North, as demonstrated by the sudden execution of Jang Song-thaek, once the No. 2 leader, and strong military threats. (Yonhap News)