Rifts remain as three FMs meet

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/25 0:48:39 Last Updated: 2016/8/25 6:31:19

Wang Yi reiterates opposition to NK missile test, THAAD

People pass by a TV news broadcast showing file footage of North Korea's ballistic missile that the North claimed to have launched from a submarine, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday. North Korea on Wednesday launched the missile in an apparent protest against the annual South Korea-US military drills. Photo: IC

 Differences over sensitive geopolitical issues remain between China, Japan and South Korea at the trilateral meeting on Wednesday where China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated the country's opposition to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs while showing similar disapproval of the US deployment of a missile defense shield in South Korea.

Analysts said China is embroiled in a conundrum in Northeast Asia as the complexity of the regional geopolitical situation has grown to a level not seen since the Cold War.

The trilateral foreign ministers' meeting, which was held Wednesday morning in Tokyo, came shortly after a North Korean submarine fired a ballistic missile that flew about 500 kilometers toward Japan, a sign that its ballistic missile technology has improved.

Wang said at a joint press conference after meeting his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida and South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se that China opposes North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, opposes any words or actions that cause tensions on the Korean Peninsula and any behavior that violates UN Security Council Resolution 2270.

China will continue to push for a nuclear-free peninsula, seek a resolution through talks and uphold regional peace and stability, Wang added.

UN Security Council Resolution 2270, adopted on March 2 after North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January, is considered the toughest sanctions imposed on North Korea so far.

Wang also told his South Korean counterpart that China is "resolutely opposed" to the US deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery on South Korean soil. He said China hopes South Korea and China can meet half way to find an appropriate resolution that both sides can accept.

The three ministers also share the understanding that Japan will host a trilateral summit this year, though dates have yet to be worked out, Reuters quoted a Japanese foreign ministry official as saying.

Equal weight

"If you look carefully at Wang's statement, you will find that it differs from previous ones as it addresses both North Korea's nuclear and missile tests and South Korea's THAAD deployment with equal weight," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times.

The US and South Korea announced their decision to deploy THAAD in July as deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile tests. The decision has met with strong opposition from China and Russia as THAAD can also be used as a radar to spy on neighboring countries' activities.

"The North Korean nuclear issue is one reason that leads to conflict and instability, but China is now concerned that the deployment of THAAD will let conflicts spill over to regions outside the Korean Peninsula," Zheng said.

Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said China is facing an unprecedented geopolitical conundrum in Northeast Asia.

"Unlike in the Cold War era, where two camps were competing for influence in the field of traditional security, it is not easy to break the balance of deterrence. Now, nontraditional security factors are part of the game, the overall situation is becoming ever more complicated," Da said.

Relations between China, Japan and South Korea are often difficult with territorial disputes and Japan's wartime aggression affecting its ties with China and South Korea. Relations between China and South Korea also hit some bumps in the road after the announcement of the THAAD deployment. 

"The trilateral foreign ministers' meeting is a sign that the three sides are willing to keep the communication channels open despite their differences. The three countries also need to work on mechanisms to control emergencies or a crisis," Da said.

No connection to meeting 

South Korea said the North test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from waters near the port city of Sinpo at around 5:30 am Wednesday morning.

The launch is the sixth SLBM test from North Korea since its first attempt in May 2015 and the third such launch this year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test is a grave threat to Japan's security and an unforgivable act to regional peace and stability.

The test is believed to be in retaliation for the annual military exercises between South Korea and the US, and has little to do with the trilateral meeting, analysts said.

They are concerned that the test will only consolidate South Korea's decision on the THAAD deployment and give Japan more reasons to beef up its military capabilities.

Newspaper headline: Rifts remain as 3 FMs meet

Posted in: Diplomacy

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