Wuxiaworld > Empire of the Ring > 623 Compromise 3
"Your Highness. Do you know what China's defense budget is for this year? That's as much as 1.1 trillion yuan. It's 7 percent more than their last year's budget. They're pouring in an amount that we can't compare to, and it's almost impossible to keep up with."
Eriksson was trying to persuade Youngho to reduce its arms sales costs, citing China's defense budget.
"That's indeed beyond our grasp."
"In dollars, it's about 230 billion."
"..."
It was such a huge sum that Youngho calculated for a long time.
"It's 23 times more than our defense budget. What's fortunate for us is that our ally, the U.S. spends over 600 billion dollars for its defense."
"Well, I guess China's budge would go into equipment modernization and troop maintenance."
"Not just that. In fact, more is being spent on defense than the Chinese government has announced. Experts think that it's about 400 billion dollars in truth."
"What does that mean?"
"The booklet published by Stockholm International Peace Research gives us very specific figures."
It sounds like he was suggesting not to dare to provoke China, which had a defense budget dozen times more than Kazakhstan, so Youngho made a sour comment.
"So you're saying we should keep our mouth shut and lay low."
"I'm just telling you this because you're sensitive to statistics."
"I knew there was a huge gap with China. That's why we took a step back from Pamir to buy time."
"China won't think we made a concession. It will think that we have succumbed to its power. So I'm telling you, you have to strongly demand a military alliance with the United States."
"The U.S. is already our ally. They sell military weapons to us without conditions."
"I'm talking about the level of a military alliance in which the U.S. can automatically intervene in the event of war."
"The U.S. policy puts Europe before Central Asia. And we have a military alliance with Russia, so China is somewhat in check."
"I doubt if Russia will be active in the event of such a situation."
Russia saw China as a tougher opponent than the U.S. as it bordered China. War with China was a matter directly related to its national security.
"I can't agree that Russia won't intervene. Russia has a lot to lose if we are out of the picture. Besides, there are millions of Russians living in Kazakhstan, too. I don't think it's going to abandon them."
"Russia is a socialist country. It's not going to lift an eyebrow even with the expense of millions of people to keep the nation alive."
"I know it's no use pouring money into our defense. But would the U.S. form a military alliance to such an intense degree when we don't have much appeal to them?"
Youngho became frustrated as Eriksson's suggestion seemed impossible to achieve even with the help of Michael, the director of the U.S. Intelligence Service.
"Your Highness, it is possible if you come forward and persuade them. Kazakhstan has accepted nearly a million Kurds on humanitarian grounds. That's what's going to have the most impact."

Although Youngho knew China had a large defense budget, the reality that Kazakhstan could not keep up no matter how hard it tried had weighed on his mind.
He felt like he was standing in front of a huge wall that could not be overcome.
"No matter how strong China is, it won't dare touch Kazakhstan."
"Is there any reason China should be afraid of Kazakhstan?"
"If we have nuclear weapons, it won't treat us lightly."
"Are you planning to bring in nuclear weapons from Russia? Russia says it's not afraid of the world's attention, but it's never going to sell it. If you're thinking of developing a nuclear weapon, please reconsider. As soon as we develop nuclear weapons, we will become the world's public enemy and become completely isolated."
"How many nuclear-tipped missiles do you think were deployed throughout Kazakhstan at the time of the Soviet collapse? Do you think they were all terminated?"
"..."
Eriksson's face became stiff at the moment.
Youngho's words were like saying that they were in possession of nuclear weapons.
"Don't be too surprised. We haven't found it yet. Michael told me to keep it hidden if I found it."
"Has Michael advised you that?"
Without answering Eriksson's question, Youngho changed the subject.
"I heard that in the near future, all Northeast Asian countries will have nuclear weapons. When that time comes, we will also be a nuclear power."
The only way to stop China's advance was nuclear.
Although Kazakhstan was now developing laser weapons, nuclear weapons that were traditionally known as formidable, were the greatest existing fear to all.
"Do you really believe there are nuclear weapons somewhere in Kazakhstan?"
"Not necessarily. Regardless, Kazakhstan is already known as a potential nuclear power. Maybe that's why China can't touch Kazakhstan so easily."
"You mean we should act like we have it even if you don't have a nuclear weapon."
"Yes, we should neither be positive nor be negative. China will have to figure out what makes Kazakhstan act so fearlessly, or they'll use international agencies to check it out."
Eriksson looked dumbfounded for a moment.
"I've heard of Soviet-era nuclear physicists are in the royal territory. They must have already developed nuclear weapons."
"In a lab, you can develop it as much as you want. It's about whether you actually made it or not. I'll make it clear that we don't have nuclear weapons so far."
"If you don't have nuclear weapons, then there's nothing to worry about. Then, should I make a rumor?"
"I don't intend to make you a liar. Why don't you ask the Swedish Information Agency to spread the rumor?"
"All right. I'll see what I can do."
"I'm afraid that leaking uncertain information will damage the company's image."
"It wouldn't matter since it's not doing a business with information. Creating rumors is one of the things that intelligence companies do. Based on that, investors often make money."
***
The border issue on the Pamir Plateau was closed with both sides' agreement to keep the disputed area as a buffer zone in which no military action was allowed.
However, the anti-tank mines, randomly scattered by the Tajik militia, were to be taken down by Kazakhstan within the year.
When they saw the images of the Tajik militia and Kazakh troops demolishing anti-tank mines, the officials of China even stormed out of the conference room in a rage, but what was done was already done, so they were determined to hold Kazakhstan accountable for what it did.
They seemed to be not expecting much, either, knowing that mine removal was not an easy task. Perhaps they were relieved that Kazakhstan confessed to having buried mines.
If they deployed troops unknowingly, they would have lost their precious and expensive tanks.
If necessary, the Chinese side also offered to add hands, so Youngho agreed.
The Chinese government, which thought it had received much of the concessions from Kazakhstan, was quite proud. The Chinese media was busy praising the government's political power, as Kazakhstan appeared to have caved in even without any military pressure.
"I almost dashed through the door of the conference room but held it in because of the dissuasion of the U.S. side."
Though Park Jong-il, who had wrapped up negotiations with China in Geneva, was speaking as if he was angry, his face was brighter than ever.
After finishing the Pamir issue, he felt much more relaxed.
"You looked happy in the picture."
"Don't get me wrong. I was just trying to keep my cool."
"So, I heard the mine issue was a hot potato."
"Oh, it was not just a hot potato. The negotiation was almost called off. They said we intentionally scattered the landmines."
"That's common in conflict areas. Don't they use it?"
"They said that nobody uses such a dirty weapon these days and that wars also have classes. I put up with it. If it were anyone else, he would've quit already."
"They're funny guys. Since when did they play so gentlemanly?"
Chinese officials must have pretended to be gentlemen because the world's attention was being focused on the negotiation.
"I think we removed the barbed wire fence too fast. They were just full of themselves."
"Oh, let them be. We've earned time thanks to them."
"What do we do even if we have more time? There are no weapons to beat China."
"The ink has not even dried on the agreement papers yet, but you're already in a hurry. The laser weapon is about to be completed, so wait."
"Really? Will you open it when it's developed? We need to scare the whole world."
"No. I'll keep it a secret. It will do no good if China learns about it. They'll imitate it soon."
"If you're going to keep it a secret, it's not a war deterrent."
"It's okay to open at the last minute because we're going to be known for something else."
"..."
"Eriksson will make rumors about our nuclear weapons through the Information Agency. It'll be worth seeing. I wonder what China's reaction would be like."
"How will you bear it?"
"What do you mean? We don't have it anyway. There's nothing to defend."
It was unclear how Eriksson did it, but the rumor that Kazakhstan had nuclear weapons slowly begun to spread.
Despite official denials from Kazakhstan's government, inquiries came from all sides to confirm the truth.
Michael from the U.S. intelligence service was no exception.
-You just spilled the rumor on purpose.
"I'm also trying to find out why there's such a rumor. Someone seems to be making malicious rumors to get Kazakhstan in trouble."
-Why is that malicious? Isn't it what you wanted all along?
"It's unfair to have nuclear weapons you don't have."
-So, you didn't intentionally spill the rumor?
"If I have it, I'll have to keep it hidden. Didn't you tell me to keep it a secret if I had one?"
-Your operation seems to have succeeded for now. You've got an amazing skill to wrap it up as if you had nuclear power.
Michael seemed to be already assuming that it was Youngho's work but Youngho remained calm until the end.
"What's the point of becoming a subject of gossip?"
-I don't know who started the rumor, but China is very sensitive about it.
"Really?"
-That's why I said you succeeded. Sooner or later, the United Nations will officially request confirmation.
"It's just a rumor, isn't it?
-As it's just a rumor, it's highly likely that it will end with an official statement of confirmation. If you don't have a clear statement, you'll need a special nuclear inspection from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"That's a lot of fun."
Youngho's intentions seemed to have worked.
Even though the media reported that the Kazakh government did not possess nuclear weapons, the rumors were growing, let alone subsiding.
Youngho was exuberated to hear that China reacted sensitively toward the rumor. There would be no provocation from China until the rumor was confirmed to be false.