As a key player on the Korean Peninsula, the attitude of Seoul toward the North Korea
n nuclear issue is of great significance. South Korea needs to take its share of the blame for today's tense situation. It shouldn't view itself as an innocent victim. In the latest developments, South Korea has not moved to calm the situation, rather it has escalated the tension.
China proposed the "suspension-for-suspension" approach in March, to which Washington responded passively, but Seoul's rejection was more flat. A White House official said before US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to South Korea that it might be best to wait for the May 9 election of a new South Korean president to make the final decision on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD
) activation. An irritated Blue House immediately asked the US to confirm its stance on the issue.
Sino-US cooperation is crucial to safeguarding peace on the Korean Peninsula and across Northeast Asia. However, South Korea appears to be apprehensive about the successful meeting between President Xi Jinping
and his US counterpart President Donald Trump
at the Mar-a-Lago resort. Seoul is particularly uneasy on the possibility that Washington may delay the THAAD deployment
for cooperation with China.
A US State Department official said on Monday that Washington is not aimed at regime change in Pyongyang. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a similar remark previously. The message is important to ease the current situation. But such remarks haven't been heard from Seoul for a long time.
What exactly do Seoul's conservative forces want - a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, or pursuing their political gains by creating a mess? It seems that South Korea, always demanding more US pressure on the North, has done little to promote the Washington-Pyongyang detente these years.
Is the South Korean public willing to see a war extending to Seoul? South Korea adopted the Sunshine Policy toward the North in the past, with then president Kim Dae-Jung visiting Pyongyang in 2000. Seoul attributes the failure of the Sunshine Policy entirely to Pyongyang, and has never reflected on Washington's and its own responsibilities for Pyongyang's nuclear provocations.
South Korea will for sure suffer the consequences if a war breaks out on the peninsula. Seoul shouldn't fancy a scenario that Pyongyang's regime collapses during the war and the South can unify the peninsula in the process. China opposes the use of force in addressing the peninsula issue, and it will definitely backfire if South Korea's conservative forces act recklessly toward the North.
We sincerely hope that Seoul, instead of thwarting the concerned parties from reaching consensus, can adopt a pragmatic Pyongyang policy, put more efforts into de-escalating tensions, ease the Washington-Pyongyang impasse and create more favorable conditions for Beijing-Washington cooperation.
We expect South Korea to focus on the peninsula's peace, which concerns its core interests.
South Korea will take the brunt of the consequences of the tensions on the peninsula. Counting on the Beijing-Pyongyang confrontation to relieve itself from the dilemma is only a dream of South Korea that will never come true.