Sunday, December 27, 2009

Use the Chinese model for reunification, not the German model

So says the German ambassador to Korea, Mr. Seidt.

My personal recommendation would be not to follow the German example because the situation is different, I would recommend looking to the Chinese example," German Ambassador Hans-Ulrich Seidt told Herald Media publisher Park Haeng-hwan during a recent courtesy call.
The ambassador's statement reflects a different environment and political settings.
"Look how China managed Hong Kong, Macau, and now they are managing Taiwan," he pointed out.

Some of his reasoning makes sense to me.  Seidt described how European countries that threw off communism had internal pressure to force the change and North Korea does not appear to.

On the other hand, East Germany was relatively poor compared to West Germany (man, I really hope I have 'east' and 'west' right) and North Korea is in a similar, though much more extreme, position.  Hong Kong and Taiwan offered far better standards of living than China did or does and I think Macau did, too.  Hang Kong and Macau were held by leases which offered a clear and legal way to reunite with China.

I have trouble finding the hubris to argue with the German ambassador about how Germany reunified, but I have to question his thoughts on how the Chinese model would be appropriate for the Koreas.  The best I can do is note that outside pressure, from China, paved the way for unification with Hong Kong and Macau, while a mix of inside and outside pressure worked for Germany.  For Korea, most of the work will have to be done outside of North Korea.

Hmm, maybe I'm coming around.

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