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Negotiations vital to peninsula peace

By Hu Mingyuan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-06 07:29

Negotiations vital to peninsula peace

A missile is launched during a long and medium-range ballistic rocket launch drill in this undated photo released by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on August 30, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

Ignoring the opposition of the international community, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday. The DPRK has been trying the patience of the international community, especially its neighbors, and risking more severe sanctions by continuing to conduct nuclear and missile tests.

It claims the nuclear/missile tests are to strengthen its national security and counter the threat posed by the US military. But it seems to have erred on this front, because the United States is much more likely to launch an attack if the DPRK becomes more capable of making nuclear weapons and advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The fact is, the DPRK's security depends on negotiations, not military power. It should not only stop its nuclear/missile programs, but also heed the international community's warnings and take steps to improve its ties with the US through talks. To restore peace on the Korean Peninsula, it also needs to enhance communication with the Republic of Korea.

China has been asking the DPRK to halt its nuclear program and the US to stop its large-scale military drills with the ROK, so that they could restart the peace talks. The proposal can help ease the tensions on the peninsula, which is a prerequisite for resolving the DPRK nuclear issue and maintaining peace in Northeast Asia. But Pyongyang and Washington seem least interested in Beijing's proposal.

The DPRK has been conducting nuclear tests to exhibit its military strength in response to the joint US-ROK military drills. But the more nuclear tests it conducts the more severe sanctions it will face.

Instead of being cowed down by the increasingly severe sanctions, however, Pyongyang has been advancing its nuclear program, complicating the issue further. This vicious circle, unfortunately, could eventually lead to a war.

Therefore, negotiations remain the only way to restore peace on the peninsula, especially because dialogue is a better means than economic sanctions or military threats to bring the rival parties to their senses.

China has been making exemplary efforts to maintain peace on the peninsula and highlighting the importance of negotiation mechanisms such as the Six-Party Talks. The US needs to abandon its hostile policy toward the DPRK. And Japan and the ROK should also work to restore peace on the peninsula and contribute to the stability and prosperity of Northeast Asia.

The author is deputy secretary general of and associate researcher at the Center for Northeast Asian Studies in Jilin province.

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