China Plays Key Role in Dealing with DPRK Nuclear Issue

By Wang Sheng

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Monday with Chung Eui-yong, top national security advisor for the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in, in Beijing.

Xi expressed appreciation toward President Moon for sending Chung as a special envoy to brief him on Chung’s recent visits to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States.

“We expect a smooth DPRK-ROK summit and DPRK-US dialogue,” Xi said, expressing his hope that there will be substantial progress in denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and normalization of relations between the parties.

Chung thanked China for its important leading role in helping with positive changes on the Korean Peninsula, and said the ROK is willing to coordinate closely with China to maintain the current momentum on the Peninsula.

Xi, Trump Discuss Korean Peninsula and Bilateral Relations via Phone

President Xi  had a phone conversation with US president Donald Trump on March 9.

During the conversation, Trump acknowledged that there had been positive developments on the nuclear issue recently, adding that a high-level meeting between the United States and the DPRK accords with the interests of all parties, and expressing his hopes for an eventual peaceful solution to the nuclear issue . He recognized that the stance taken by Xi — that the US should engage in dialogue with the DPRK — is correct. He also noted that the US is very grateful to China, attaches great importance to its important role on the peninsula issue, and is willing to maintain close contacts and coordination with China.

Xi said that China is firmly committed to achieving the denuclearization of the peninsula, maintaining its peace and stability, and upholding the idea of solving the issue through dialogue and consultation. The positive changes taking place are conducive to getting the peninsula’s denuclearization process back on track for settlement through dialogue, and are also in line with the direction outlined by United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding the DPRK. Xi welcomed Trump’s proactive willingness to seek a political settlement of the peninsula issue, and expressed his hopes that Washington and Pyongyang will begin contacts and dialogue as soon as possible to achieve a positive outcome. Xi told Trump that China also hopes all parties involved can show more goodwill, avoid actions that may affect or impede the improving situation on the Korean Peninsula, and strive to maintain the current positive momentum. Xi believes that as long as all parties stay committed to the direction of political and diplomatic settlement, progress will surely be made in taking the peninsula issue in the direction expected by the international community.

The phone conversation between the heads of China and US has further shown that both parties highly value the unique role China plays in Korean Peninsula issues.

China’s Solution is vital to Improving DPRK-ROK Relations

Thanks to the opportunity for “Olympic Diplomacy” during the ROK’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, positive progress has been made on the DPRK nuclear issue and the wider Korean Peninsula problems. DPRK officials have also responded positively. As a result, the DPRK-ROK heads meeting and US-DPRK heads meeting will be held in late April and May.

ROK’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Even though the “Olympic Peace Window of Opportunity” has given the DPRK and ROK a historic chance to make peaceful overtures, this would not have been achieved without China’s unremitting endeavors.

Trump has fully recognized the role China plays in dealing with the DPRK nuclear issue.

On March 10, Trump tweeted “North Korea has not conducted a Missile Test since November 28, 2017 and has promised not to do so through our meetings. I believe they will honor that commitment! ” Trump also explained that he had spoken at length with China’s President Xi Jinping about the meeting with Kim Jong-un and had gained Xi’s support. “China continues to be helpful!” Trump emphasized at the end of his tweet.

US President Donald Trump’s twitter.

China’s Support is Important to the Realization of ROK “Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Diplomacy to DPRK”

China has always been and will continue to be the guardian of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

ROK president Moon Jae-in, who advocates reconciliation and cooperation with DPRK, emphasized the cooperation between China and ROK on the issue when he met President Xi during his visit to China in December 2017. Moon also accepted China’s solution of proactive support for the resumption of contact and dialogue between the ROK and the DPRK to improve their ties. Consensus has been reached on several issues regarding peaceful negotiation of DPRK nuclear issue.

China has proposed the “dual-suspension” initiative and advocated the “parallel-tracking approach” to achieve Korean Peninsula denuclearization and establish the peninsula peace mechanism at the same time.

These two initiatives are practical and applicable ways that help to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue.

The amicable interactions between the ROK and DPRK during Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are a “trial” version of and active response to China’s “dual-suspension” solution.

Moon has emphasized several times that he will never allow his generation and their successors to become generations who need to rebuild their home. His convictions and his resolve to avoid war on the Korean Peninsula are clear. His proposals to postpone the US-ROK military exercise, to create a joint ROK-DPRK joint female ice hockey team to attend the competition, and to invite a DPRK Olympic delegation to visit ROK during Pyeongchang Olympics are all amicable signals sent to the DPRK.

Moon’s benevolent approach won a similar response from the DPRK. During the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, DPRK did not test a single missile or nuclear weapon; instead it engaged in practical interactions with the ROK and achieved worthwhile results.

China will play a key role both in the future easing of ROK-DPRK strains and in the interaction between the US and DPRK. China’s active mediation and facilitation of negotiation and dialogues among the parties concerned are now working.

As a country with a good grasp of the essentials, China has clearly pointed out that the security is the core issue on the Korean Peninsula, and the crux of this problem lies in the relationship between the US and DPRK. Whether through the ROK-DPRK heads meeting in late April or the US-DPRK heads meeting in May, China always hopes and is delighted to see that permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula can be reached, and is looking forward to peaceful development there.

 

Wang Sheng, research fellow of Co-lnnovation Center For Korean Peninsula Studies, professor of department of international politics, College of Public Administration, Jilin University