Peninsula issue requires unity
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.