Xi meets South Korean official, vows to push for political solution

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/12 21:53:39

SK appreciates China's guiding role on peninsula issue

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong in Beijing on Monday, and encouraged all parties to stick to denuclearization, peace and stability in the peninsula as the fundamental tasks.

Xi said China will keep pushing for a political solution, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement on Monday.

Chung delivered South Korea's "sincere appreciation" to China's "important and guiding role" for pushing the positive change over the peninsula issue. He said South Korea expects China to keep playing an important role and South Korea will closely coordinate with China to maintain detente.

"Both the US and South Korea have praised China for pushing the positive change in the situation, and this shows that these two countries, which used to blame China for 'not doing enough to stop North Korea' and refused China's proposals, have finally understood China's efforts and accepted China's suggestion," Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

On Friday, Chung told the media in Washington after meeting with US President Donald Trump that Trump would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "by May to achieve permanent denuclearization." Later the same day, Trump tweeted, "Meeting being planned."

Xi and Trump also spoke on the phone, at Trump's request, on Friday to talk about the possible meeting, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

It has been proven that Xi is right to insist on a dialogue between the US and North Korea, Trump said on the phone, adding that the US highly appreciates and values China's significant role in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue, and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China over the issue.

China's crucial role

A key reason why the peninsula situation did not lose control is China's tough and firm opposition to any war and chaos in the peninsula, otherwise the US would really have taken military action against North Korea, Lü said. "In other words, China is safeguarding the bottom line for peace."

Apart from conflict prevention, China also played an important role in guiding the situation to a positive change, said Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor at Renmin University of China's School of International Studies.

"China didn't do what the US and South Korea had requested before, which would push North Korea into a corner. China has always made efforts in the UN Security Council to prevent the sanctions from hurting North Koreans," Cheng said.

"If North Korea collapsed due to the harsh sanctions, the situation would have been much more difficult. Problems like refugees, military conflicts and nuclear proliferation will hurt every country in the region," Lü added.

Trump had said several times in 2017 that he was "very disappointed" with China for not doing enough to stop North Korea's weapons program. On August 22, 2017, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions against some Chinese companies for what they claimed was "supporting North Korea's nuclear weapons development."

On the other hand, China is also fulfilling the UN Security Council resolutions to pressure North Korea even at China's expense to make the sanctions effective, Cheng noted.

"There is no denying that the sanctions launched by the international community, including China, have had a serious impact on the North Korean economy and drove Pyongyang's policies," Lü told the Global Times.

Although Trump has already agreed to meet Kim, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at a press conference on Saturday that Trump will not meet with Kim unless North Korea takes "concrete and verifiable actions" toward denuclearization, CNN reported.

"Denuclearization and stopping nuclear and missile tests are significant compromises already, and without negotiations, North Korea is unlikely to make concrete and verifiable actions, but it's possible to see North Korea expressing sincerity by releasing detained US citizens," Cheng noted.

Newspaper headline: Xi meets S.Korean envoy

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