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I see alliance thrown around like candy and it is not a good thing. China has no military defense pacts with other recognized states, because it has a policy of not having them.
It has security agreements, economic agreements, but no obligations to be defended by or to come to the defense (or offense) of anyone but ROC administered islands, since it considers that its own territory.
This is smart in general as it always leaves the door open and political leeway at maximum. IN the event of another Korean conflict China is as likely to take control of the North and make it part of China as it is to support and prop it up, for the reasons I stated earlier.
And Korea would be better off today if Japan didn’t get involved with colonizing it, and the SU/US didn’t get involved in splitting it in two. It is yet to regain its independence as a unified Korean nation. SK does not control its foreign policy or armed forces. NK does, for what that’s worth (not much at all).
NK was always SU’s baby. Up until 1972 the situation in the south was more dire, economy was worse and it was a dictatorship as well. NK’s leadership failed hard when it adopted self reliance and chose to isolate itself not just from the world but its own ally, the SU. The collapse of the SU cut what little economic links were left with the outside world, and China never really picked up the slack because the NK regime is still insular and won’t allow it. US invested tens of billions into SK. China could invest even more into the North-but the NK generals won’t allow it. Juche or self reliance is an ideological disaster in more ways than one and has little to do with Socialism.
China’s assistance in 50’s was purely a reaction to US led forces approaching the Yalu river and MacArthur publicly threatening to keep going, he saw his mission as an anti-communist crusade. under a SU nuclear umbrella, Mao moved decisively to remove this threat at the behest of the Soviets. Afterwards China disengaged from the region when Mao and the Soviet leadership stopped being buds.
Because Russia is courting the North again and because the north has a nuclear stockpile, it is here to stay. The question becomes how can NK open up slowly, and normalize relations with its neighbours, particularly the South; which could then lead to peaceful unification as in Germany. But unlike Germany, one of the key demands of the NK side is that the US must first disengage from South Korea, i.e remove its military presence.
I don’t see why not at this stage, the SK can defend itself.