[VIEWPOINT]The right way to handle diplomacy

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[VIEWPOINT]The right way to handle diplomacy

The essence of wild animal training lies in taming them with the use of both the carrot and the stick. North Korea has agreed to return to the six-party talks. The fact that China has used its diplomatic skills to successfully persuade North Korea to return to the negotiating table is remarkable.
China participated outwardly in the international move to sanction North Korea, but the country devoted efforts toward soothing Pyongyang with the other hand.
Tang Jiaxuan, the Chinese state councilor in charge of foreign affairs, assumed the role of a coordinator shuttling between Washington and Pyongyang as a special envoy of President Hu Jintao.
He secretly invited to Beijing Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and chief U.S. negotiator for the six-party talks, and Kim Gye-kwan, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, where seven-hour-long negotiations occurred. He finally succeeded in inducing the North to return to the six-party talks. It was a brilliant success for Chinese-style “training diplomacy.”
A circus coach needs to have the two faces of Janus, each looking in the opposite direction ― one a stern father and the other a thoughtful mother. When their child makes a mistake, the father punishes him with a stick, but the mother tends the wound and tells him without fail that his father is punishing him because he “wishes him future success.”
Although China had to punish North Korea for daring to blast a nuclear bomb while using China’s supply of energy, trade and finance as leverage, it must have also emphasized repeatedly that “China does not want regime change in North Korea.”
China still maintains its imperialistic heritage. The Chinese emperor gave hefty presents to envoys from peripheral countries that offered tributes to China when they returned home. When there was any sign of rebellion, however, China responded with ruthless punishment. The diplomatic skill of juggling reminds me of a circus trainer’s skill.
If we call China’s diplomacy a “training diplomacy” that uses both the carrot and the stick, the U.S. diplomacy on North Korea is “pressing diplomacy” that relies mainly on the stick.
It is “hard diplomacy” based on power and unilateralism. It can be effective in a short period, but its long-term effect is reduced because it induces terror and resistance from its opponents.
As far as diplomacy is concerned, the United States has much to learn from China.
South Korea’s diplomacy with the North is nothing but “squandering diplomacy,” which gives away a huge amount of aid unconditionally to the North. It uses soothing and caressing as its only technique. It never takes tough measures against North Korea when it has to show firmness.
When we give away carrots to the North continuously, one day it becomes unusual not to give carrots.
South Korea’s policy is dull, one-tempo slow and outdated.
Because our North Korea policy is so lukewarm, nobody pays any attention to the words of South Korea’s authority.
While China displayed diplomatic dexterity at Diaotai, the state guest house in Beijing, South Korea did not even know such an event was taking place there.
Almost all knowledgeable people know how hard the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade worked to help Ban Ki-moon, the minister of foreign affairs, be appointed as secretary general of the United Nations.
Ultimately, the dream came true. In itself, that is a great achievement. If we talk rationally, however, it is diplomacy for a ministry official’s job and the ministry itself. It is more of a domestic achievement than real diplomacy.
If the officials of the Foreign Ministry devoted half the passion they devoted to making Mr. Ban the head of the UN to genuine diplomacy, we would not be in such a difficult situation caused by our policies toward North Korea’s nuclear problems.
By making North Korea return to the six-party talks, the horse is guided to the water. However, getting it to drink is a completely different story.
Moreover, there is no way of knowing when the horse will run away to the fields and create new problems. The really serious diplomatic game has just begun.
A figure who shares the same beliefs as the president has been appointed as the new foreign minister to lead the diplomatic game regarding North Korea’s nuclear issue.
In order to tame North Korea, apparently it seems necessary to use carrots, but he must also realize that there are times to use a stick. If he gets busy with coordinating his code with that of the president, many people worry whether he can afford to use a stick.

*The writer is an editorial writer and traveling correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok
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