A moment for denuclearization

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A moment for denuclearization

The sky over Beijing early this week is expected to be cloudy as the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue will most likely produce rough words — instead of cooperation — which is highly suggestive of upcoming conflicts between the G-2 nations. The eighth dialogue of its kind is led by U.S. State Secretary John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jaycob Lew and Chinese Vice Premier for the Economy Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi in charge of foreign affairs.

The United States is unprecedentedly poised to pressure China on economic and security issues because it is a “China bashing time” ahead of the U.S. presidential election and because Barack Obama is determined to demand from China whatever he can in the last strategic dialogue in his presidency.

Uncle Sam is eager to repudiate Beijing for its manipulative yuan policy and overproduction of steel after putting the renminbi on its monitoring list as seen by Washington’s filing a complaint to the World Trade Organization for Beijing’s alleged levying unfair tariffs on chicken imports from the U.S. The trade war between America and China is not a distant matter for us because it will surely affect Korean steelmaking industries, which set up their production outposts in China. Korea runs the risk of being mired in disputes over tariffs for antidumping charges.

But what attract our attention most is the North Korean nuclear issue. A subtle change of tides is palpable over the two countries’ approach to the conundrum after Chinese leader Xi Jinping gave a smile to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong at Wednesday’s meeting with him, which hints at a possibility of a diplomatic thaw after frayed relations due to the North’s repeated tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

In the meantime, Washington designated North Korea as a country to be monitored for potential money laundering on the very day when Xi met with Ri. That’s an explicit warning to China not to engage in financial transactions with the North if China wants to have financial dealings with the U.S. China resists the U.S. move as “it is unfair to put sanctions on other countries based on domestic laws.”

Washington and Beijing can take different positions depending on their interests. But it must not lead to a disagreement on the nuclear issue which poses immediate threats to the peace and security of the world.

The international community is actively cooperating on the UN sanctions after the North’s fourth nuclear test in January. The Sino-U.S. friction must not cause any schisms on the anti-North sanctions. Instead, Washington and Beijing must use the dialogue as an opportunity to reinforce their cooperation on the issue. We hope the dialogue in Beijing helps Pyongyang to return to dialogue for the denuclearization, not for the sake of dialogue.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jun. 6, Page 22
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