North Korea once again surprised the world. Media went in a frenzy about the country's disman-tling its rocket as late as two days ago.
However, its satellite had already been launched into orbit yesterday and rocket debris had reportedly fallen into the waters off the Philippines.
North Korea has sufficient reasons to launch its satellite.
The peaceful development of outer space should be a fundamental right of every sovereign state. However, North Korea's actions violated UN resolutions which demand a halt to missile and nuclear tests.
As a country that always believes it has no guarantee of its national security, North Korea's actions can be understandable. North Korea has to improve its strength to cope with possible threats from its perceived enemies.
Viewed from the current circumstances, the situation on the Korean Peninsula will not spin out of control because North Korea launched the rocket.
However, the US, Japan and South Korea will certainly be unhappy. These three countries may take further actions to impose harsher sanctions on North Korea. This will lead to more ratcheting up of tensions on the Peninsula.
This is the point that concerns China the most. China hopes that all parties can keep calm and take actions that promote peace and stability.
Escalating tensions on the Peninsula is in the interests of nobody. But then, is there any way to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control?
The only solution is to establish a peace mechanism. The Six-Party Talks are making efforts in this direction but only little progress has been made.
Without the constraints of a peace mechanism, countries can only increase their sense of security by strengthening their military power. This is not a sustainable situation.
There can be no rules, sense of security or mutual trust without a mechanism. A lack of trust exists in many inter-state relationships in Asia. North Korea's rocket launch only shows up this weakness more clearly.
It is inevitable that a security mechanism must be put in place to maintain peace across the entire Asia-Pacific, in-cluding East Asia and the South China Sea. It would also be the foundation of long-term sustainable development in this region.
Asia is undergoing a process of dramatic change. The latest report of the US National Intelligence Council pointed out that Asia's rise will shake the global peace under the hegemony of the US.
If the old institutions can't manage Asia, then new institutions are needed.
This is a big challenge facing the entire continent. China has been promot?ing institutional construction in the field of economy and trade in recent years, through such forums as the ASEAN+3 and the newly-started China-Japan- South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.
Now it's high time to establish a political and security mechanism. From the perspective of China's surrounding political and security situation, the challenges do not lie in the future but in the present. China has to move forward.
China is a big power in the region. Without its participation and design as a leading role, the setup of the regional security mechanism is impossible.
The mechanism will not only regulate North Korea, but also the Philippines and Vietnam. China itself will certainly be confined by the mechanism, but the credibility it acquires will be more important.
China will have steadier development in an institutionalized region. The future position of China in Asia is not only determined by its national strength, but also by its ability to build institutions. It will be a process entangled with complicated interests, but China must face this reality.
The author is a senior reporter with the People's Daily. He is now stationed in Bangkok. firstname.lastname@example.org