Who sunk my battleship?
There have been recent accusations of North Korea sinking a South Korean warship, which apparently was the last straw for the South Koreans. This is not the first time North Korea has provoked their Southern counterparts. Both nations have been at war since 1950, and technically speaking, the war has not yet ended because no peace treaty was signed.
An opinion I recently read was that World War III will break out, Russia and China will side with North Korea and the rest of the world (except Iran, no one knows what's going on there) with South Korea. Not only do I find this ludicrous, in addition, I can define three reasons why this won't happen.
1. This will reverse China's efforts in the last thirty years
China's Cultural Revolution left an unsavoury taste in the World's mouth. It gave rise to a dictatorship that was comparable to both Hitler and Stalin, for the amount of deaths recorded during his leadership was 50 to 70 million people. However, he is now heralded as one of the World's most influential people because he managed to set modern China up for huge leaps and bounds in economics. China is now one of the largest economies in the world; every household has something made in China.
Siding with North Korea in war, though they are allies, would be an idiotic move on their part. More so in the last ten years, China has finally entered the World stage and spending billions of dollars to make an impression, and an incredible one if I may say so myself. They rely on the West for raw resource imports in exchange for export purchases. During the Global Financial Crisis, China was one of the only countries still prospering which is a historical achievement. Not only will they risk destroying their reputation in the West, their economy will take a blow that will far exceed the GFC.
2. Prosperous global relations will take a blow
I can imagine the imminence of World War III being a popular propaganda/conspiracy theory breeding ground. If you believe that Russia and China will side with North Korea in war then you should do your research. Though there may be some alliances between these said countries, both governments are partaking active roles in strengthening global relations. Presumably, it's a very American mindset to believe that Russia and China are taking over the World. I don't know if people think this because of a zeitgeist originating from the Cold War days or China's dominating economy, but the mass media is powerful enough to impair informed judgement.
Some evidence that Russia is trying to repair relations after the arms race is playing host to the next Winter Olympics or fighting the growing Nazi culture that is unfortunately rampant in some areas. China is currently hosting the World Expo, has hosted the Summer Olympics and has a fast-developing space program. All of these events and programs require foreign involvement. They wouldn't make these investments for nothing.
3. The US vs. North Korea?
This is not as inevitable as it may seem. A number of countries are involved when it comes to maintaining peace in the Korean region. China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and The US have all held close ties to North Korea ever since North Korea claimed to own nuclear weapons. Though North Korea has breached some international sanctions the US no longer considers North Korea as a "state sponsor of terrorism". If nuclear warfare were to break out, North Korea would more than likely be outnumbered in arms. Assuming China and Russia are smart with their diplomatic alignments, they will urge North Korea to reassess the situation before war occurs.
I like to think of North Korea's alliances with Russia, and China to a lesser extent, as a parallel to Germany and Russia during World War II. Germany feared Russia because, during that time, they were an economical powerhouse and Hitler knew the Russians were more than capable of destroying Germany. Am I allowed to draw the same parallels to this situation? They seem oddly familiar to me - differing ideologies, mutual support between the three but do not correspond unless needed.
Geographically speaking, both China and Russia are within close proximity to North Korea. If borders are shared then an alliance makes sense. But this is the only time it makes sense. Communism is now a minority in the ex-USSR: the recent election in Ukraine proved they'd rather be in the centre than the left, much like Russia. China is also making progress by taking baby steps into democratic liberalism. In addition, capitalism and consumerism is now engulfing China from the moment economic reform became effective. Does this politically align with North Korea? No. Then why the alliance?
When WWI broke out, did they call it WWI from the get-go? How about WWII? Warfare between the Koreas is unlikely given the current, peaceful political climate. To call it an imminent WWIII is baseless, irresponsible fear-mongering.