The release of the international investigation report on sinking of Cheonan in May 20, 2010, concluding that the South Korean warship had been bombed by a North Korean torpedo has alleviating the tension in Northeast Asia region. South Korea suspended all trade and investment with North Korea while Pyongyang denied its responsibility for the March 26 incident and called the investigation a “fabrication”. The U.S government urged for global response but the Russian government did not support to raise the issue in the U.N Security Council until it gets 100% proof that the ship was sunk by North Korea.
How about Chinese government's response?
Up till now, the Chinese government's position has remained ambivalent, as chinesesky notes:
在中国当代外交史，这次危机独一无 二。以往不是出现敌对一方进行双边挑战，就是有多边讨论需要中国调停，鲜有天安号事件这样，双方都希望逼中国作出鲜明、带有实质行动的表态，而双方都不能 不算是中国朋友。历史上，最接近的案例有两个，一个是1971年的孟加拉独立战争，当时孟加拉一方积极争取中国，以为基于「被压迫人民」的身分，会得到毛 泽东支持，但由于孟加拉要求脱离的巴基斯坦，是中国铁杆盟友，最终中国站在巴基斯坦一边，放弃「世界人民」。另一个是 2003年的伊拉克战争，中国在暧昧多月后，终于说站在反战的法德俄一方，但其实两面不讨好。
In the Chinese diplomatic history, such kind of crisis is very distinctive. In the past, the China is either challenged by the enemy power or has to act as a middleman in multilateral conflicts. In the sinking of Cheonan, both sides are seeking support from China. Both countries are in friendly relation with China. Looking back at the history, we had two similar cases. The first one the Bangladesh independent war in 1971. At that time, Mao should have supported “the oppressed people” but Pakistan was China's alliance. In the end, China sided with Pakistan and gave up “the people”. Another case is the Iraq war in 2003. After a few months silence, it sided with France and Germany against the War.
Baijiajiangtan thinks that the Chinese government has to adjust its strategic position:
North Korea has kept crossing the line and testing the limit of international society and the intervention of China seems ineffective. It shows that it has to adjust its strategic position to deal with the current situation.
一个高度集权、封闭、贫穷而又无视国际准则的朝鲜政权的存在，不符合当今中国的战略利益，甚至对某些重大利益产生冲击。近二十年来，朝鲜核 问题一再挑动国际社会的敏感神经，六方会谈折冲樽俎的结果，竟是朝鲜基本一步步成为“有核国家”。如果朝鲜弃核的可能性被彻底打破，日、韩势必加入核竞 赛，东北亚将成为全球拥核国家最密集、安全形势最严峻的地区，这是中国无论如何都不能接受的。
A poor, closed and authoritarian state which ignores international rule is not strategically beneficial to China. In the past 20 years, the nuclear crisis in North Korea has created tension in the international world and the 6-party negotiation has somehow given North Korea rights to develop nuclear technology. If there is no hope to turn North Korea into a nuke-free country, Japan and South Korea will join in the nuclear race and northeast Asia will become a nuclear military zone. This is unacceptable to China.
On the other side of the coin, a united, prosperous and democratic Korea may not be against the China strategic interest. The splitting up of Korea peninsular is the result of Cold War. The end of the Cold War would imply the reunion of the two…. A united Korea will bring economic opportunity for Dongbei area and the economic circle of northeast Asia will come into reality.
However, Baijiajiangtan's aspiration to end the Cold War is too idealistic to others. In fact many immediate reactions still follow the Cold War conspiracy theory:
@虫小柒 from t.sina said:
虫小柒：唇亡齿寒，朝鲜一灭，矛头接着就对准中国，到时候俄罗斯岌岌可危，所以爸爸出面了，妈妈垂帘听政，这一战，想打，困难～ 《俄将派人赴韩了解天安号事件》 http://sinaurl.cn/hkfzA
Without the lips, the teeth feel cold. If North Korea disappeared, all the spears will be directed to China and Russia will also be threatened. That's why the father (Russia) has decided to step out, while the mother (China) is listening behind the curtain. The war won't happen like this ~ “The Russian government will send a team to investigate the Cheonan incident” http://sinaurl.cn/hkfzA
@寒正 from t.sina also doubted the credibility of the South Korea investigation:
We should not believe the South Korean report so easily, many countries have such kind of torpedo, not to mention the metal fragments. If it was a secret attack, how could they have left the traces of Korean on the fragments? And why did the South Korean government reject the North Korean investigation team? … The incident can be a conspiracy among Japan, South Korea and the U.S.
Another Korean War?
Whether or not there would be another Korean War and whether China would be dragged into the chaos is always a common concern:
@ 新华龙 says:
新华龙：朝鲜是 敢打的，一是有后盾（中俄）；二是不破不立，不打日子难过，打了说不定能捞到点什么的。韩国不会轻易开火，他的人值钱一点一般犯不着和夯货去拼命，但国内 的大选需要“外乱”，只能走险棋。只怕是开腔容易，开枪难，开了腔而不开枪，犹难。 有点担心这个小老弟，再把我们拖出一个“志愿军”来。
North Korea with the support of China and Russia would not be afraid of entering war. Moreover, their days might be easier with the War. South Korea would not venture into war. They don't have to risk their lives for nothing. However, the general election calls for “outside threats”. This is a risky step. Now that it has begun, it would be difficult to end. Feel worried that we would be dragged into war by our little brother.
Thaidick from Discuss Hong Kong, however, does not think China will enter into the dirty water:
中國搞開放改革, 要發展經濟, 走向世界
Concerning with the relations between China and DPRK, all the good old days are gone. Now China follows the open-door policy and develops its economy to join the world. How will China get involved by Mr. Kim?
This article is co-authored with WingLok