South Korea's anti-war activists hold placards showing a portrait of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a rally against the planned deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, outside the government complex in Seoul on Friday. Tillerson is in Asia for his first foray into crisis management. Photo: AFP
A Chinese expert warned the US against taking a tough stance and called for a restart of the Six-Party Talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, after visiting US Secretary of State said in Seoul on Friday that military action against nuclear-armed North Korea is an "option on the table."
Washington's top diplomat Rex Tillerson said during a joint press conference with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se in Seoul that all of diplomatic, security and economic measures and all options will be reviewed for the peninsula's denuclearization.
"All options are on the table," said the top US diplomat who arrived in South Korea earlier in the day for the second stop of his first East Asian tour since taking office.
He visited Japan on Thursday, meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. He is scheduled to fly to China on Saturday.
Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that Tillerson's tough speech was a warm- up for Saturday's visit to Beijing and sends a signal to China that the new administration will change Obama's policy.
"Tillerson intended to put pressure on China and created an intense atmosphere. By intensifying the rhetoric, the US government on one hand attempted to test China's reaction, on the other hand, while cautioned North Korea not to act rashly," said Lü.
End of 'strategic patience'
Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, told a press conference on Friday that China, as a neighboring country, also worries about the peninsula situation and has every reason to play a role in maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula.
The Six-Party Talks have always been an effective platform for solving the problem and China hopes that the related countries should consider and respond to the "double suspension" resolution. Meanwhile, China has maintained close communication with the related parties, and is open to any suggestion that can lead to peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis, said Hua.
However, Tillerson said a so-called strategic patience policy toward North Korea has ended, referring to the US foreign policy in the past decade under which Washington had refrained from having talks with Pyongyang before its sincere efforts at denuclearization, Xinhua reported.
Tillerson said Washington does not want to cause conflicts, but he said that if North Korea conducts any provocative act to threaten South Korea and the US forces stationed in Seoul, his country will take action against it.
The South Korean foreign minister said no change has been made in the joint goal of the two allies to achieve a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
"The US should take back its military threat against North Korea over the nuclear issue. Chances that the US and South Korea would launch military action against North Korea are slim as it is internecine to South Korea," said Lü.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump imposed pressure on China by tweeting that "North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been 'playing' the United States for years and China has done little to help."
China has been actively promoting the resumption of Six-Party Talks over the issue but the US has shown little sincerity, said the expert.
The US is not interested in reviving the Six-Party Talks, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in an interview with CNN on Thursday.
"The US should understand that it is a common interest for both countries to restart the talks and resolve the nuclear issue. China will not accept the US' accusation and never approve of any military conflict. We hope Saturday's meeting will make a progress in solving the problem," said Lü.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of 2016. Last week, it launched four more ballistic missiles and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the US.
The Korean Peninsula is at the edge of nuclear war, warned Pak Myong-ho, minister at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, on Thursday, stressing that North Korea will continue developing nuclear force if the threat "at the gate of North Korea" persists.