China and North Korea: Past, Present, and Future

With international attention focused on a potential U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in May, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a surprise trip to Beijing in late March to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The North Korean leader’s visit to Beijing, his first foreign visit since assuming power in late 2011, came amid strained bilateral relations in recent years. Kim and Xi appear to have reinvigorated the historical bonds between the two countries and reaffirmed China’s crucial role in the future of the Korean Peninsula. This conference will explore the dynamics and tensions of the historical relationship between China and North Korea, the potential impact of Korean reunification on China, and China’s role in a limited military conflict and its aftermath.


8:30 am – 9:00 am: Registration and Breakfast

9:00 am – 9:15 am: Welcome

Panel 1, 9:15am – 10:15am: China and North Korea Relations

This panel will examine the historical China-North Korea relationship, changes in political and security relations, and role of past and present economic ties on the future of the bilateral relationship.


Jennifer Staats, Moderator
Director, East and Southeast Asia Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

Stella Xu
Associate Professor of History, Roanoke College

Yafeng Xia
Professor of History, Long Island University Brooklyn

Junsheng Wang
Visiting Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council
Director and Associate Professor, Department of China’s Regional Strategy, National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China


Panel 2, 10:30am – 12:00pm: Would a Reunified Korea under South Korean Leadership be Positive or Negative for China?

This panel will assess China’s position on the ideal end state for the Korean Peninsula and whether a reunified peninsula under South Korean leadership would be beneficial or detrimental to Chinese economic, political, and security interests given South Korean, Japanese and U.S. likely responses.


Frank Aum, Moderator
Senior Expert on North Korea, U.S. Institute of Peace

Yun Sun
Co-Director, East Asia Program; Director, China Program, Stimson Center

Zhu Feng
Professor of International Relations and Executive Director, China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, Nanjing University, China

Heung-Kyu Kim
Director and Professor of Political Science, China Policy Institute, Ajou University, South Korea

Michael Green
Associate Professor and Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University
Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Lunch Keynote Address, 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Ambassador Mark Lippert

Mark Lippert is a current member of the Board of Trustees at the Asia Foundation and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea.


Panel 3, 1:30pm – 3:15pm: War and its Aftermath on the Korean Peninsula – What Role Could China Play?

This panel will discuss the contours of a potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula, to include U.S. operations, how China may respond, and opportunities for cooperation. Participants will also examine Beijing’s role in shaping the post-war situation on the peninsula.


Mark Landler, Moderator
White House Correspondent, New York Times

Abraham Denmark
Director, Asia Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Lieutenant General Jan-Marc Jouas
Former Deputy Commander, United Nations Command Korea

Oriana Skylar Mastro
Assistant Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University

Jeanne Kirkpatrick Scholar, American Enterprise Institute


Closing Remarks, 3:30pm – 4:15pm

This conference is cosponsored by the Georgetown Center for Security Studies and the United States Institute of Peace, and made possible in part by the generosity of the Bilden Asian Security Studies Fund.