Sanc­tions alone can­not rein in DPRK

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

To im­ple­ment Res­o­lu­tion 2270 passed by theUnit­edNa­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil onMarch 2 against the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea, the Chi­ne­seMin­istry of Com­merce has pub­lished a list of goods that can­not be im­ported from or ex­ported to the DPRK.

The list, how­ever, has sparked a de­bate, es­pe­cially be­cause it makes ex­cep­tions for goods the DPRK peo­ple need as ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties and those that are for hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

China be­lieves sanc­tions on the DRPK are aimed at pre­vent­ing Py­ongyang from de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons and bring­ing it back to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble. But China is op­posed to the use of sanc­tions while ex­clud­ing di­a­logue, or “full sanc­tions” that will harm the in­ter­ests of or­di­nary peo­ple in the DPRK and could lead to a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

The de­nu­cle­ariz­ing of the Korean Penin­sula is linked to the eas­ing of the DPRK’s nor­mal con­cerns, its se­cu­rity con­cerns in par­tic­u­lar. It is thus un­re­al­is­tic for theUnited States and the Repub­lic of Korea to pro­pose that the DPRK aban­don its nu­clear pro­gram be­fore talks can be held on other is­sues. TheUS and the ROK have been push­ing for full sanc­tions on the DPRK in the hope that Bei­jing would pres­sure Py­ongyang into ac­cept­ing all the con­di­tions to hold a mul­ti­lat­eral di­a­logue. Their aim, in other words, is to push Py­ongyang to­ward col­lapse.

China op­poses such moves, be­cause it knows they will lead to a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the DPRK and could en­dan­ger the in­ter­ests of other coun­tries. In this sense, the pub­li­ca­tion of the list of em­bar­goed goods is a prag­matic move by China to pro­tect not only the in­ter­ests of or­di­nary peo­ple in the DPRK but also the se­cu­rity of all the coun­tries in­North­east Asia.

SomeWestern me­dia out­lets have de­lib­er­ately mis­in­ter­preted China’s list or fo­cused on Py­ongyang’s dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Bei­jing in a bid to sour China-DPRK ties. The fact is, the essence of Bei­jing-Py­ongyang ties has not changed. There are no es­sen­tial dis­putes be­tween Bei­jing and Py­ongyang ex­cept for their dif­fer­ence on the Korean Penin­sula’s nu­clear is­sue.

China boasts the best record among all coun­tries when it comes to the im­ple­men­ta­tion ofUN­sanc­tions on the DPRK. For ex­am­ple, af­ter theUN­passed Res­o­lu­tion 2094 in the wake of the DPRK con­duct­ing the third nu­clear test in 2013, China pub­lished a list of em­bar­goed goods and its Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs pres­sured Py­ongyang to meet the de­mands of the sanc­tions.

In fact, theUS, Ja­pan and the ROK lost pa­tience and se­cretly sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the DPRK or es­tab­lished con­tacts with it through other chan­nels to ful­fill their goals.

The Korean Penin­sula nu­clear is­sue, to a cer­tain ex­tent, is the re­sult of Py­ongyang’s mis­guided se­cu­rity pol­icy, which is per­haps based on the out­dated ColdWar men­tal­ity. Also, con­tin­u­ing se­cu­rity pres­sure ex­erted by the US-ROK mil­i­tary al­liance on the DPRK has height­ened ten­sions on the penin­sula. So, to set­tle the nu­clear is­sue once and for all, the coun­tries con­cerned have to not only help the DPRK cor­rect its er­ro­neous se­cu­rity pol­icy by im­pos­ing sanc­tions, but also re­spond to its top se­cu­rity con­cerns.

This makes it nec­es­sary for the coun­tries con­cerned to hold sin­cere talks. And since the Six-Party Talks have proven the most vi­able plat­form to re­solve the nu­clear is­sue, con­cerned coun­tries should try to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for its re­vival.

In its ef­forts to cre­ate a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for the talks, China has pro­posed the set­ting up of a peace mech­a­nism aimed at grad­u­ally elim­i­nat­ing the rem­nants of the ColdWar on the Korean Penin­sula. And be­cause this con­struc­tive ap­proach can help re­solve the penin­sula nu­clear is­sue, it should be sup­ported by all coun­tries.

The author is an as­so­ciate re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

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