China can’t break NK nuke deadlock alone

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/1 0:13:39

The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea, which was proposed by the US after Pyongyang's fifth nuclear test in September.

The resolution caps North Korea's annual coal exports at $400.9 million or 7.5 million tons, much lower than the country's coal exports in 2015. It also bans North Korean exports of copper, nickel, silver and zinc, and puts limits on the country's foreign missions.

The US had proposed a much harsher resolution and there have been rounds of negotiations between Washington and Beijing in the past two months. China holds that sanctions should target Pyongyang's nuclear program, not the North Korean people, and shouldn't bring about humanitarian disaster. The principle was presented in the final draft.

As China is the biggest export market for North Korean coal, Western countries and South Korea often say that China's attitude is key to whether the UN resolution can be carried out to reach its goal. Yet this mentality doesn't hold water.

China has faithfully implemented a succession of UN sanction resolutions on North Korea and has thereby suffered more economic and diplomatic losses than any other country. It takes much more efforts for China, which had trade ties with North Korea, to control the long border than other countries that had little trade with Pyongyang. This can be shown by several criminal cases that North Koreans committed in China's border areas in recent years.

Besides, sanctions can only be part of the international efforts to talk Pyongyang out of its nuclear program. The US and South Korea need to take the initiative to improve North Korea's security environment and ease Pyongyang's anxiety about possible threats facing it. They should try to seek breakthroughs with Pyongyang in security and mutual trust, otherwise, no sanctions can force Pyongyang to give in. The nuclear issue is deadlocked because North Korea, the US and South Korea fail to have talks and build trust. This has implications for all Northeast Asia. Washington and Seoul want Beijing to pressure or even stand against Pyongyang so they don't have to work more.

Despite the new sanctions, relevant parties still vary hugely in their way of thinking. China holds that all the parties should assume their due responsibility. But the US and South Korea think they are fully right and justified to point fingers at others for the current situation on the Korean Peninsula.

If such unrelenting sanctions still don't work, Washington and Seoul need to look inwards. The US has imposed sanctions on many countries in the world, but wielding sticks without any carrots mostly amounts to nothing.

We hope North Korea can take the latest resolution in a calm and rational way and meanwhile the US and South Korea will not get obsessed with power and conquering. The only peaceful solution to the nuclear issue is that the three sides can both take a step back.  

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