Beijing-Pyongyang ties crucial to peninsula

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/20 23:43:40

Song Tao, the special envoy of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, wrapped up his visit to North Korea on Monday. Song briefed the North Korean side on the 19th National Congress of the CPC, which was held last month, and had an extensive discussion with leaders of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee about party-to-party relations and Korean Peninsula affairs.

Pyongyang highly praised the achievements of the 19th National Congress of the CPC. The two sides agreed to enhance party-to-party exchanges and bring the relations of the two countries forward.

Both sides have sent positive signals about party-to-party relations, as well as signs that the relationship of the two countries is at a low ebb. Pyongyang seems to be sending a message to the international community that it will not change its stance on the nuclear issue under pressure of UN sanctions.

The relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang is not as good as some optimists think. It is also not as bad as some pessimists believe. Party-to-party communication remains open, even though the two countries are still poles apart on the nuclear issue.

North Korea has no intention to fawn over China; neither does it want to break relations with China. This seems to be Pyongyang's posture toward Beijing after China joined the UN sanctions imposed on North Korea.

The factors that help maintain the current China-North Korea relationship include their profound traditional friendship, their mutual interests under the complex geopolitical environment and their rational sentiments that one holds toward the other. Upholding the bottom line of the bilateral relationship leaves a chance of hope for the Korean Peninsula.

Although North Korea and the US have escalated the tensions, neither wants the peninsula issue to become deadlocked. If the US resorts to war and North Korea takes a life-or-death approach, it will be a nightmare for both.

China has maintained communication with the US and both Koreas, because China is trying its best to ease the situation. Those countries accept and respect China's current role and understand that their past excessive demands on China were unrealistic.

China strongly opposes North Korea possessing nuclear weapons. It also opposes the US, Japan and South Korea's imposition of unilateral sanctions and escalating military pressure on Pyongyang outside of UN resolutions. The China-proposed "dual suspension" approach has been gaining more traction. If there is a peaceful breakthrough, it must be on the basis of this "dual suspension" approach.

The escalating confrontation between Washington and Pyongyang has consumed both sides. The US stressed that all options are on the table, but it faces impossible choices if it resorts to force. Some even believe Washington does not have the option of launching a preemptive military strike against North Korea. Therefore, seeking a diplomatic breakthrough is an urgent task for Washington.

As for Pyongyang, dragging the nuclear crisis indefinitely does no good. Making moves to end international sanctions is far more rational than continuing its nuclear and missile program.

If we view Song's North Korea visit against this background, its strategic significance will prove to be multidimensional. The visit has consolidated China-North Korea ties and guided all sides to think about the peninsula situation.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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