US should throw its weight be­hind in­ter-Korean talks

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is head of the macro-econ­omy re­search sec­tion at the Sun­ing In­sti­tute of Fi­nance af­fil­i­ated to Sun­ing Ap­pli­ance Co.

The pro­posal, made by Repub­lic of Korea Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in this week, to re­sume in­ter-Korean dia­logue with the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea is a wel­come move af­ter a long pe­riod of provoca­tive ac­tions and harsh rhetoric by var­i­ous coun­tries.

The meet­ings on mil­i­tary and Red Cross is­sues with Py­ongyang, if held, will be the first such dia­logue since 2014.

China has ex­pressed sup­port for the pro­posal aimed at im­prov­ing re­la­tions through dia­logue and pro­mot­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, with Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman Lu Kang call­ing on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to give its sup­port.

How­ever, Wash­ing­ton is not happy with Moon’s of­fer, re­gard­ing the cur­rent con­di­tions “far away” from those needed for any re­sump­tion of dia­logue with Py­ongyang.

Views out­side the US gov­ern­ment are split.

Former US deputy sec­re­tary of state John Ne­gro­ponte be­lieves diplo­macy is the only way to re­solve the com­pli­cated is­sue. He told a fo­rum in Seoul on Wednes­day that “we need to ap­proach dia­logue as a means to solve prob­lems rather than as a re­ward for good be­hav­ior… Nei­ther the US nor South Korea should shy away from bi­lat­eral talks with North Korea.”

That was also the mes­sage in a June 28 let­ter to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed by six vet­eran former US of­fi­cials such as former de­fense sec­re­tary Wil­liam Perry, former sec­re­tary of state Ge­orge Shultz, and Robert Gal­lucci and Bill Richard­son, both of whom par­tic­i­pated in pre­vi­ous talks with the DPRK.

The let­ter warned that “there is no guar­an­tee diplo­macy will work. But there are no good mil­i­tary op­tions, and a North Korea re­sponse to a US at­tack could dev­as­tate South Korea and Ja­pan.”

It is not sure if such a ra­tional ar­gu­ment will con­vince the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

There has been much noise. John Bolton, a former US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, is right that sanc­tions on Chi­nese firms won’t be ef­fec­tive in solv­ing the prob­lem. But he is to­tally wrong when float­ing a mil­i­tary op­tion in his op-ed in the New York Post on July 5. “They (China) can work with us or face the in­evitable con­se­quences, which will be far more dam­ag­ing than pin­prick sanc­tions,” he wrote.

Bolton is right that such an out­come will be dam­ag­ing to China; that’s why China has re­peat­edly stressed sta­bil­ity and peace­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion to the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the penin­sula. What The au­thor is deputy ed­i­tor of China Daily USA. chen­wei­hua@ chi­nadai­

Bolton did not men­tion is that it will be more dev­as­tat­ing to the ROK and Ja­pan, two of the United States’ clos­est al­lies.

China has not only en­dorsed rel­e­vant UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions, it has also im­ple­mented them ef­fec­tively. China, how­ever, made it clear that it will not cut nor­mal trade ties with the DPRK that are not banned and re­stricted by the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Few in the US have prob­a­bly thought about the kind of hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter that would be trig­gered if the nor­mal trade re­lated to peo­ple’s liveli­hoods in the DPRK was sud­denly cut off.

... we need to ap­proach dia­logue as a means to solve prob­lems rather than as a re­ward for good be­hav­ior ... there is no guar­an­tee diplo­macy will work. But there are no good mil­i­tary op­tions ...

Some in the US have even ac­cused China of not want­ing to see a uni­fied Korea. That is not true. In my view, China would love to see a uni­fied Korea that is peace­ful and sta­ble, not one that be­comes a US pup­pet state, with US troops march­ing along the Yalu River bor­der­ing China.

Some in the US have long been used to others do­ing ex­actly what they are told to do by the US, and they are un­will­ing to lis­ten to China or even the ROK, whose ap­proach to the DPRK is quite dif­fer­ent, as ev­i­denced dur­ing Pres­i­dent Moon’s re­cent trip to Wash­ing­ton.

The whole world knows the US’ mil­i­tary might and there is no need to show it time and again. It is time to show wis­dom on the di­plo­matic front through di­rect talks.

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