'Talk in China' of removing Kim Jong Un

WASHINGTON • Chinese scholars and policymakers have begun talking about supporting surgical strikes on North Korea and removing leader Kim Jong Un from power, a Chinese academic was quoted in a news report as saying.

"Some Chinese scholars and policy makers began to talk about supporting 'surgical strikes' and 'decapitation' by the US and South Korea as a policy option," said Dr Sun Zhe, co-director of the China Initiative at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, during a security forum in Washington, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. He added that nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times even said China, the North's most important ally, should "make contributions" to "destroying the nuclear capability".

"More radical proposals indicate that China should change the leader, send troops across borders and station in DPRK, force DPRK into giving up nuclear and beginning opening up and reforming," Dr Sun said, referring to the North, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

His comments, unusual for a Chinese scholar, seem to show the growing frustration China feels about Pyongyang in the wake of its fifth nuclear test last month, said Yonhap.

He said debates in China about the North have focused on points such as whether the North is a strategic asset or liability; actual effects of international sanctions; potential nuclear safety problems; and refugee issues on the border with the North.

"The consensus of the debate is to maintain the stability of the North Korean regime, expressed in the '3 Nos' policy (no war, no nuclear, no chaos). The most controversial issue is how big a price China should pay for supporting the Kim Jong Un regime," said Dr Sun.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline ''Talk in China' of removing Kim Jong Un'. Print Edition | Subscribe