Penin­sula is­sue re­quires unity

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The best sce­nario in pur­su­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula — all stake­hold­ers jointly pur­su­ing a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion — ap­pears in­creas­ingly dis­tant and un­achiev­able. In­deed, there are signs that the frag­ile sol­i­dar­ity that had ap­peared to have been forged re­cently has al­ready crum­bled, since the ap­por­tion­ing of blame has resurged after the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea test-launched its sec­ond in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile in a month.

By all mea­sures, Py­ongyang’s lat­est progress in in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile tech­nol­ogy is bad for all par­ties con­cerned. Not only is it in clear vi­o­la­tion of United Na­tions res­o­lu­tions, but it also con­sti­tutes a greater threat to peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

Py­ongyang’s right to de­velop nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties aside, its con­stant saber-rat­tling can­not but be taken as a dan­ger­ous threat to all, in­clud­ing China, which feels threat­ened by the dam­age Py­ongyang’s nu­clear weapons am­bi­tions may in­flict on its im­me­di­ate neigh­bor­hood.

For that rea­son, al­though US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at what he con­sid­ers Bei­jing’s fail­ure to dis­suade Py­ongyang from its nu­clear ad­ven­ture, Bei­jing has ev­ery rea­son to feel un­fairly bur­dened with a task that is ob­vi­ously be­yond it, es­pe­cially as it has been work­ing dili­gently to bro­ker a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis.

Trump is wrong in his as­sump­tion that Bei­jing can sin­gle-hand­edly han­dle the mat­ter. As Bei­jing has said, re­peat­edly, it does not have the kind of “con­trol” over Py­ongyang that the US pres­i­dent be­lieves it does.

Nor will Bei­jing ac­cept Trump’s al­le­ga­tion that it has done noth­ing. From Bei­jing’s per­spec­tive, it has sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased the pres­sure on Py­ongyang by do­ing ev­ery­thing the strength­ened UN sanc­tions regime re­quires of it.

The only thing that has proven to be true so far is no coun­try can solve the DPRK problem by it­self. The log­i­cal con­clu­sion, there­fore, is the stake­hold­ers need to work more closely to­gether in or­der to find a way to guar­an­tee peace on the penin­sula.

Un­for­tu­nately, Trump’s threat to link the is­sue to trade and mount pres­sure on China show these two stake­hold­ers are mov­ing fur­ther apart rather than com­ing to­gether.

This lack of unity is a for­mula for fail­ure and may, in­stead of a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion, lead to a worst-case sce­nario.

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