Chapter 5: China, Russia, and the Koreas, by Eduard Eykelberg

Eduard examines important developments in China’s and Russia’s relations with the Korean peninsula. He argues that China’s hosting of the Summer Olympics and Russia’s invasion of the former Soviet satellite state, Georgia, symbolizes the rise – or at least a rise in assertiveness – of both China and Russia. For Korea this implies a sensitive change in its strategic environment, a change that is being accentuated by an overstretched and financial-crisis weakened ally, the United States.

Eduard’s paper examines how in 2008, China and Russia pursued new efforts to gain access to and cooperation with both North and South Korea. China’s importance in North and South Korea is clearly stronger than Russia’s due to historical and geographic realities in the region. However, while China’s influence has grown incrementally and at a steady pace, Russia’s presence on the peninsula expanded vastly in 2008. Eduard argues that, although the intensified interest in and competition between China and Russia over the two Koreas may place restraints on future China-Russia relations, this competition offers great security benefits to the region as a whole, and substantial benefits to the economic future of the Korean peninsula.