Sino-US ties must avoid NK nuke trap

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/21 21:58:39

US President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!"

The tweet was interpreted in different ways in the US media. One side thinks Trump was expressing his dissatisfaction to Beijing and the tweet is aimed at pressuring China before the first China-US Diplomatic and Security Dialogue convened Wednesday. Another side believes Trump is explaining his change of China policy after taking office. Trump still tweets a lot, but he is more cautious in the wording. A simple tweet often leads to different interpretations. But it is certain that Trump now has a more comprehensive understanding of China than he had when he won the election. Now he has access to more information, he has to take into consideration more issues, and is subject to various interest groups. All of this helps to shape a more objective view on China.

Regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, Trump may know more about its complications. Previously he said that he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and talk him out of the nuclear and missile program. Trump must now understand that it's not going to be so easy. He might also be clear that Beijing's influence on Pyongyang is not enough to solve the issue.

Though having never openly admitted it, the US is clear that its alliance with South Korea has mutually reinforced the sense of insecurity with the North. Washington obviously hopes Beijing can impose the maximum pressure on Pyongyang, but there is a limit. As to what exactly China can do to help solve the problem, the US only has some rough ideas, and it is not positive about them.

The US always blames China for not doing enough when Washington is at a loss over the North Korean nuclear issue. The conflicting parties on the Korean Peninsula are North Korea and the US-South Korea alliance. China's forces have long withdrawn from the peninsula. It is absurd to expect China to solve the longstanding contradiction between the two sides.

Sino-US exchanges on the issue must be based on reality and consider the interests of both sides. China borders North Korea, and it does have major concerns about its neighbor. The US must respect these concerns just as China needs to respect the US concerns about North Korea. Even the US and its ally South Korea have different opinions on the risks of war breaking out on the peninsula. The US is more prone to use force to resolve the issue, while South Korea must be very reluctant to take that step.

After assuming the presidency, Trump gradually absorbed the mainstream opinion of the US on China. His China policy tends to be steady. However, some people in the US do not want to see this, or they want to weaken Trump's political position. Therefore, they try to seize every opportunity to hype the Sino-US conflicts and encourage the Trump administration to take a hard line on China. The argument that China must be responsible for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile activity is a trap for the Sino-US relationship. We hope Trump and his team are wise enough to avoid this trap.



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