ROEHRIG:- The Korean peninsula is crucial because the same players are involved in the South and East China Sea issues that are having a serious impact on the ability of these governments to cooperate.
HH: To what extent, if relations deteriorate between U.S. and China, could North Korea be used?
ROEHRIG:- If they deteriorate significantly North Korea might decide there is an opportunity to do something because they feel the U.S. is distracted.
HH:- And what is the possibility of a sudden collapse of the regime?
ROEHRIG:- There could be a circumstance where North Korea conducts a small-scale action against which it believes there won’t be a response. If South Korea does retaliate, there is a danger of something escalating that could draw China’s response — if a nuclear test or ballistic missile test went awry you could draw China in.
HH: Is there a plan between China, the U.S. and South Korea?
ROEHRIG:- To my knowledge, there is not a great deal of planning. There may be at other levels that I am not aware of. It is a delicate issue because from a U.S. or South Korean perspective planning for a collapse means you may be interested in encouraging a collapse and that could be diplomatically problematic
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