The PLAs Relationship with North Korea
Provocative missile launches are nothing new in the Asia-Pacific region. In March 1996, China recklessly test-fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to intimidate Taiwans voters in the run-up to their first-ever free presidential elections. That series of missile tests, which for several days virtually closed the heavily-traversed Taiwan Strait to all shipping and air travel, was the brain-child of the PLA and acquiesced to by then-President Jiang Zemin, who at the time had not yet consolidated his support among Chinas military.
Indeed, the real players in Beijings Korea policy are the PLA leadership. There is no doubt that the PLA is in close contact with its North Korean counterparts. Article IV of the July 11, 1961, military pact (the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance between the Peoples Republic of China and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) obliges Korean Peoples Army (KPA) commanders and top Chinese generals to continue to consult . . . on all important international questions of common interests. In return, China is to render . . . every possible economic and technical aid in the cause of socialist construction including scientific and technical cooperation.