Xi-Kim meeting generates positive momentum

By Yu Shaohua Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/3 21:03:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


At the beginning of 2018, North and South Korea brought a relaxed atmosphere to the long-lasting tension on the Korean Peninsula through the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The recent meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un added momentum toward a climax.

Beijing and Pyongyang have a traditional friendly cooperative relationship and have been supporting and coordinating with each other in global affairs. China and North Korea can understand and back each other up in their development path while sharing increasingly the same goals in regional security affairs. This is undoubtedly a positive factor for regional stability and development.

The Xi-Kim meeting was surprising, but it was reasonable and conditions were ripe for it. The long history of traditional friendship between China and North Korea is deeply rooted in the mind-set of ordinary people from both sides. Leaders from the two sides have also been guiding the bilateral relationship from a strategic height as well as the perspective of an international and a regional pattern. Ties between Beijing and Pyongyang will hence not be interrupted due to happenstance.

Kim's tour in Beijing was his international debut seven years after his father Kim Jong-il's 2011 visit to China. Due to the length of the gap, it can be imagined that Kim's latest visit was not a simple step, but an up-to-date stride toward a new level. The proposal made by Xi for Sino-North Korean ties was to continue giving play to the guiding role of high-level exchanges, making full play of the time-tested valuable practices of strategic communication, actively advancing peaceful development and cementing the popular will as a foundation for China-North Korea friendship.

It can be anticipated that the relationship between the two countries can both follow the traditions of the past and show new characteristics that accord with the development of bilateral ties, changes in the new era and requirements of the regional situation so as to benefit people from the two countries and the entire region.

Although major parties concerned with the North Korea nuclear crisis have recently sent positive signals through their interactions, future developments on the Korean Peninsula are still blurred, especially North Korea's nuclear and missile program. What will be Kim's bargaining chip and bottom line? Opinions differ. But Kim made a clear statement that North Korea is committed to achieving denuclearization on the peninsula. If Pyongyang's goodwill is responded to properly with periodical measures, denuclearization can be reached.

It is a promise made with conditions attached. But it is clearly a statement that met the expectation of the outside world in recent years. The most eye-catching message from the Xi-Kim meeting is that the process of denuclearization on the peninsula, after years of stalemate and deterioration, has come to a crucial time that provided us with something to look forward to.

The current positive trend on the Korean Peninsula could not have taken place without China's unremitting efforts. On the one hand, Beijing has been proactively promoting peace talks and opposing war or chaos on the peninsula. On the other, China has also demonstrated the responsibility of a great power by playing a key role in enacting and fulfilling UN resolutions over the North Korean nuclear issue.

The consistency of China's policy toward the Korean Peninsula made relevant countries move closer to Beijing's principles after their own policies, which only serve their own interests, were repeatedly rebuffed. The concept of common security in China's policy protects the interests of all parties to the maximum. Because of this, different security concerns did not lead to an excessive imbalance or exacerbate conflicts.

There is still a long way to go before reaching the goal of denuclearization. The military drills of the US and South Korea, which kicked off Sunday after they were delayed about a month for the Winter Olympics and the summits between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington have enormous scope for variation and could again turn the tables on the current situation, given that mutual trust among relevant parties is far from enough.

To further deepen the hard-won relaxed atmosphere, we need to transform the achievements of the Xi-Kim meeting into more positive factors, continue to play a constructive role and promote the denuclearization of the peninsula in future dialogues.

The author is a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. The article first appeared on the People's Daily. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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