[EDITORIALS]Guiding North KoreaNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-il started his visit to China yesterday. It has been only about two months since Mr. Kim last met with China’s president, Hu Jintao, in late October in Pyongyang. Considering that the timing of the visit was amid aggravating tensions between North Korea and the United States over the counterfeit-currency issue, the world is paying more attention.
The United States has strengthened its offensive against North Korea since New Year’s. It is even reported that the U.S. government’s financial sanctions against North Korea are the will of President George W. Bush, and the United States is showing no sign of stepping back over the couterfeit-currency issue. The United States drew a clear line between the six-party talks and the financial sanctions, saying the two are separate issues, and called for Pyongyang to come back to the six-party table without any conditions.
This stance has left Pyongyang’s leadership very anxious. The North Korean leadership has been denied access to its immense secret fund, following a measure to block a Macau bank’s accounts. Other international banks are also gradually shunning trade with North Korea. If the situation continues, the North Korean leadership may reach a “braindead status of economic activity.” Therefore, it is likely that Mr. Kim visited China to earn Beijing’s support in seeking a breakthrough in the deadlock.
The issue now is what kind of offer Beijing should make to Mr. Kim. As the counterfeit-currency incident took place in Macau, a Chinese territory, China is also a concerned country. Particularly, China is in a position to understand the behind-the-scenes aspects of the case. Therefore, China must convey the facts and the will of the United States in dealing with the case to Mr. Kim as they are. Beijing must not give the impression that it is protecting Pyongyang and sticking to the particular relationship between the two. Instead, Beijing must work to make Pyongyang understand properly and quickly the realities of international society.
The counterfeit-currency case is essentially different from North Korea’s nuclear issue. It is clearly an international crime and therefore no country, as well as China, will approve of North Korea’s actions. North Korea cannot solve a problem only by denying it. North Korea instead must make a necessary explanation or apology to international society, stepping out as a member of the international community. North Korea may keep making unreasonable demands for six-party talks, but it cannot hide the truth.