Actions not wordsU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he had agreed with Chinese authorities to jointly seek denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Following yesterday’s meeting with China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi in Beijing after his visit to Seoul, Kerry stressed that the agreement is not just rhetoric but actual policies to resolve the heightened tensions. Kerry also said that he will be followed by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, Deputy Secretary of State William Burn and other intelligence officers to continue high-level talks between Washington and Beijing. Kerry’s statement reflects the two governments’ resolution to rein in Pyongyang’s unfettered nuclear ambitions.
Kerry had consecutive meetings with China’s leadership, including President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi. The two countries’ perspectives on the North are quite different. While China puts more weight on maintaining the stability of the peninsula even while advocating denuclearization, America argues that Beijing put more pressure on Pyongyang as it has direct influence over the North. Despite the ongoing disagreement between both sides, their agreement in Beijing carries great significance.
The Korean Peninsula issue cannot be resolved by South and North Korea alone. It can only be solved when Washington and Beijing demonstrate strong determination to address it. Though the fundamental responsibility for the international community’s failure to solve the decades-old conundrum should first be borne by Pyongyang, Washington and Beijing are also accountable for tensions as both sides lack a firm will to resolve it. We hope that Washington and Beijing make serious efforts to find a real breakthrough this time.
At the same time, we should devise bold and creative solutions of our own to persuade Washington and Beijing to join our initiatives. We welcome the Park Geun-hye administration’s double-track policy based on stern retaliations against the North’s aggressions and an emphasis on a trust-building process with the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang. However, the government must go one step further by taking the lead in resolving the issue.
The North has hinted that it has no intention to rush to dialogue after branding Seoul’s dialogue offer as a “despicable trick.” Today marks the 101st anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth. Pyongyang must remember that the more it chooses a dangerous path, the more difficult Beijing will find it to side with it.