China will not tolerate a nuclear Korean Peninsula

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-9 0:28:01

FM’s harsh tone shows determination to impose sanctions

China's foreign minister on Tuesday said in a rare harsh tone that the country will not tolerate nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but also warned that China will not sit still if the stability of the peninsula has been fundamentally disturbed.

Analysts believe his remarks indicate China's determination to impose strict sanctions if North Korea insists on continuing with its nuclear programs. They also believe the statement sends a message to the US and its allies that any unilateral use of force will not be tolerated. 

"China will stay unwavering in pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said  Tuesday at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress session, answering questions from a Global Times reporter.

However, he said China will also not sit by if regional stability is fundamentally damaged or there is unwarranted damage to China's security interests. 

"Blind faith" in sanctions and international pressure on North Korea are irresponsible, he said, adding that dialogue is the way to solve the problem.

"Wang's remarks send a strong, clear signal to both North Korea and the US. China is prepared to impose harsher measures to curb North Korea's nuclear programs while at the same time strongly opposes any unilateral use of force from certain countries," Dong Xiangrong, a research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch last month, triggering a UN Security Council resolution and tough new sanctions. The tests may also lead to the US deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system to South Korea, a move Beijing strongly opposes.

Relevant countries' attempts to unilaterally change the situation on the peninsula are unacceptable to China, which will be taken as a challenge to the country's security interests. Though North Korea's nuclearization has touched many countries' interest, China's interest in the region is also inviolable, Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Less of a buffer zone

Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Tongji University told the Global Times that an impoverished and politically unstable North Korea does not serve China's national interest.

"Conventionally, North Korea was often regarded as one of China's strategic buffer zones. Though losing such significance in modern wars, it remains crucial for China's national security and interests," Dong said, noting that Pyongyang's actions have already cost much of China's diplomatic resources, which were used in exchange for stability in Northeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Beijing may take stricter measures against Pyongyang, despite traditional friendly relations, experts said.

"China increasingly tends to view its relations with North Korea from the perspective of national interests rather than ideology, and will not support North Korea simply because it is a socialist country," Cui noted.

China now relies on its economic strength to develop its international influence, which needs to create a friendly public opinion environment and maintain a safe surrounding environment instead of one where tensions are raised by North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, Da said.

"The possible deployment of the [THAAD] missile defense system will cause an imbalance of strategic weapons between the US, China and Russia, while joint military drills will also pose threats to the region's stability," Dong added.

South Korean and US troops began their largest joint military exercises in history on Monday in an annual test of their defenses against North Korea, which threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Agencies contributed to this story

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