China, US share goal of halting North Korean nuclear tests

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/2 23:23:39

US President Donald Trump said to the media on Monday that "If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him [Kim Jong-un], I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it." He stressed that "If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that."

His latest remarks have triggered great controversy in the US. White House press secretary Sean Spicer explained later that the right circumstances mean "We've got to see their provocative behavior ratcheted down immediately." But he also said that "Clearly, the conditions are not there right now."

Trump has envisioned a scenario which, from the US perspective, can hardly be achieved soon. But his words at least can help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Given the tense and sophisticated status quo on the peninsula, all stakeholders have made various statements, especially the US and North Korea. But they are difficult to verify, for instance, the outside world is not so clear about where the US' bottom line is. Perhaps it is that North Korea should not possess intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach US soil. The closer Pyongyang gets to this technology, the more likely it is that the US would come to a military confrontation with Pyongyang.

China's bottom line is clearer, which is that North Korea's nuclear activities shall never affect its northeastern region. Whenever North Korea conducts a larger-scale nuclear test than the previous time, northeastern China would be exposed to more risks. Therefore, China is firm in preventing North Korea from carrying out new nuclear tests through sanctions.

As nuclear weapons and missiles will combine, opposing North Korea's nuclear and missile advancement becomes a common concern of Beijing and Washington.

But the US is far from the Korean Peninsula. Many Chinese people worry that Washington is turning the North Korean nuclear issue into a trap and they keep a higher alert on Washington's tricks than on Pyongyang's development of nuclear and missile technologies.

It is possible that the US has ulterior motives in solving the nuclear issue and the worry of the Chinese people is reasonable. But compared to the potential impairment brought about by the US' geopolitical containment of China, the danger of potential nuclear contamination of China's northeast is more urgent.

As North Korea expands the scale of its nuclear tests, if there is ever a nuclear leak which proliferates to northeastern China, we can expect major social unrest, the impact of which would exceed that of any geopolitical turbulence.

We don't have to hype up social panic, but must keep vigilant to the risks, on which China's peninsula policy should be centered.

No matter how many divergences China and the US have, their cooperation around preventing new nuclear and missile activities by North Korea is of vital importance. Each should not be distracted by other petty calculations. Besides exerting pressure, the US should take the initiative to provide Pyongyang with security guarantees.

The North Korean nuclear issue is one of the biggest challenges for China in the near future, while the key to solving the dilemma is not in Beijing's hands. It tests China's wisdom and resolve to manage the situation.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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