North Korea lashed out at US and South Korean policies toward the North on Wednesday and Thursday, resulting in Western media speculations that Pyongyang has shifted from the planned meeting with US President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump’s comments on that have led to different media interpretations. Some believe that he reacted low key to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s tough stance to save their planned meeting, while others view it as a warning to Pyongyang: If their meeting falls through, North Korea will be decimated like Libya.
Mr Trump also told the media that Mr Kim changed his attitude after his latest visit to China, and that he may have been influenced by China. Consequently, some US and South Korean media have connected Pyongyang’s change in attitude to Beijing’s influence, and in extreme cases said Beijing intentionally incited Pyongyang to be uncooperative with Washington. The most incredible opinions say it involved the China-US trade friction.
The US and South Korea blamed China for North Korea’s change in attitude, but never reflected on their own policies. The Chinese are baffled by such simplistic logic from US and South Korean politicians and media.
When North Korea offered to make huge concessions only half a year ago, the US continued to push its demands and refused to immediately provide any reward. When North Korea announced a halt to nuclear tests and the abandonment of test sites, and released three US citizens, the US demanded more, like asking North Korea to promptly submit part of its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
China has always supported peninsular denuclearisation and achieving permanent peace through phased efforts, because that’s the most realistic and operable means. The US unilaterally demands prompt peninsular denuclearisation before it provides compensation to Pyongyang. China will not oppose such a deal between the US and North Korea. However, can Washington achieve it? Pyongyang has just given an answer.
Maybe Americans think differently than Asians. However, South Koreans should seriously consider whether North Korea’s latest revolt is reasonable. It would be OK if Washington pressures Pyongyang to gain an edge in negotiations, but Washington should think twice about the possibility of pushing the Korean peninsula back to fierce antagonism.
China’s approximation to the peninsula means China supports real denuclearisation and supports North Korea to do so in exchange for US security protection and economic assistance. China supports the US and North Korea exploring more innovative approaches to realise peace. Peace and stability on the peninsula is in China’s paramount interest, and China’s sentiments need to be respected in the process. However, China will not risk destroying the positive direction of the peninsula situation just to highlight China’s position.
It is clear from China’s perspective that the US has overestimated its weight in forcing North Korea to accept its demands. The US has forgotten the awkward situation it was in last year when it could not stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, and the difficulty of taking military action against North Korea. The US has always believed it was duped by North Korea, which is, in fact, far from correct. The US was responsible for the aborted peninsula resolutions multiple times. How can North Korea, with such small power as it is, cheat the US? How can North Korea trust the US which doomed Gaddafi and aborted the Iran nuclear deal?
Without China’s participation, the UN’s North Korean framework won’t last until today. Without China as a liaison, North Korea will not build trust with the outside world. The US may be indifferent with the Trump-Kim meeting, but China only wishes it success.