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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Singapore Says China Unlikely To Let North Korea Regime Fail

Singapore: China is unlikely to let the Stalinist regime in North Korea fail as that would alter the geopolitical balance on the Korean peninsula, Singapore elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew said Tuesday.

"The Chinese cannot afford to see me go down because if I go down, the South takes over, the Americans would reach the Yalu river," said Lee, putting himself in North Korea's position when asked at a Forbes conference what the world should do about the secretive Stalinist regime.

"(The) Chinese would put pressure on me but it is not in their interest to make me fail ... if I fail, refugees, all kinds of problems but most important a buffer state is gone," Singapore's founding father and former premier said.

The Yalu River lies on the border between China and North Korea. During the Korean War, the approach of UN troops to the river provoked massive intervention by China.

Lee said it was likely that China does not want to see a nuclear-armed North Korea as it would probably mean neighbours Japan and South Korea would take steps to have the same capability.

"I have no solutions for North Korea," Lee said.

"I think the Chinese also do not want to see them with the bomb because then Japan would have the bomb, South Korea would eventually have the bomb and the Chinese bomb becomes less valuable."

China is an ally of North Korean and Beijing is believed to have significant influence on its reclusive leader, Kim Jong-Il.

Pyongyang said in February 2005 that it was a nuclear power, but is not known to have tested an atomic weapon.

North Korea in November last year pulled out of six-way nuclear disarmament talks to protest US financial sanctions against it.

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