How should Beijing respond to Pyongyang's new nuclear test?

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/3 17:08:39

North Korea conducted a new nuclear test at noon on Sunday. China's Foreign Ministry firmly opposed and condemned the move.

The test marks another wrong choice that Pyongyang has made in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and against the will of the international community. This test will result in a new round of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and heighten the risk of the situation spiraling out of control due to possible miscalculations by all sides.

Currently, the most important thing for China is to make sure that we are able to detect any leak of nuclear material, so we can inform people living in northeastern China to take the appropriate safety measures.

People in China's northeastern regions bordering North Korea felt the ground shake at noon. The five nuclear tests North Korea had previously conducted did not cause a nuclear leak and Pyongyang claimed that its latest underground nuclear test would not generate any leaks, while underlining its responsibility for the safety of the North Korean people who live close to the test site. In this respect, we hope North Korea can uphold its word.

The latest nuclear test and its recent launches of intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles prove that Pyongyang is determined to obtain a nuclear strike capability and will not yield to external international pressures. The North Korean nuclear issue has now reached deadlock.

In the face of such a complicated situation, China needs a sober mind and must minimize the risks Chinese society has to bear. The security of China's northeastern regions is a priority. We need to make clear to Pyongyang through various channels that its nuclear tests can never contaminate China's northeastern provinces. China's strategic security and environmental safety is the bottom line for China in showing restraint. If North Korea crosses this line, the current framework for Sino-North Korean ties will break down.

The latest nuclear and missile activities of North Korea will prompt the UN Security Council to discuss new sanctions against Pyongyang and even more stringent sanctions are inevitable. Despite the anger of the Chinese public toward North Korea's new nuclear test, we should avoid resorting to rash and extreme means by imposing a full embargo on North Korea.

If China completely cuts off the supply of oil to North Korea or even closes the China-North Korea border, it is uncertain whether we can deter Pyongyang from conducting further nuclear tests and missile launches. However, confrontation between the two is likely to occur. If so, the conflict between China and North Korea will transcend any conflict between the US and North Korea, and take center stage on the Korean Peninsula. Then Washington and Seoul can boldly shift the responsibility of the North Korean nuclear issue to China, which does not fit China's national interests.

If North Korea's nuclear activities don't contaminate China's northeastern regions, China should avoid imposing overly aggressive sanctions on North Korea. The root cause of the North Korean nuclear issue is that the military pressure of the Washington-Seoul alliance generates a sense of insecurity for Pyongyang who then believes that owning a nuclear strike capability is its sole guarantee for survival of its regime. China is a big power and its agendas and interests are globally oriented. The issue around the Korean Peninsula could never consume all of China's attention.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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