The JoongAng Ilbo reports that China has just gotten into the nuclear umbrella business, pledging to provide security assurances to Ukraine if it is threatened with nuclear attack.
Now, the English-language Xinhua report on the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych didn’t seem to mention it, but this English-language summary of a Global Times report does:
The statement consists of six points. In Point one, China promises to provide nuclear security assurances to Ukraine.
It states: “According to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 984 and the Chinese government statement on providing security assurances to Ukraine dated December 4, 1994, China undertakes unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine as a non-nuclear country and to provide corresponding security assurances to Ukraine when Ukraine suffers or is threatened with invasion with nuclear weapon.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo report, experts believe the Chinese move may have North Korea in mind. The argument goes that if China is able to provide a credible nuclear umbrella to states like North Korea, it could reduce the need felt by Pyongyang to develop its own nuclear deterrent, and so contribute to regional security.
Honestly, I don’t really think North Korea’s nuclear program is as much about deterrence as it is about shaking down its neighbors and the United States for cash. I’m sure they’d appreciate the Chinese gesture, regardless. It would say something about Chinese diplomacy, though, if out of 193 sovereign states, the first states to get nuclear protection are Yanukovych’s Ukraine and North Korea. Could Syria be far behind?
UPDATE: Tweets Joshua H. Pollack:
— Joshua H. Pollack (@Joshua_Pollack) December 12, 2013