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US, DPRK must meet halfway to end crisis

By Wang Junsheng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-09 07:40

US President Donald Trump started his three-day visit to China from Wednesday at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. The international community is closely watching the two presidents' meeting, especially their discussion on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

During his visit to the Republic of Korea, Trump told ROK President Moon Jae-in that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea needs to "come to the table" and "make a deal" on its missile and nuclear program.

Trump's willingness to talk with the DPRK should be seen as the right approach to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue. The peaceful denuclearization of the peninsula remains a thorny mission for all parties concerned, including the United States, China and Russia, in which time is of essence.

US, DPRK must meet halfway to end crisis

From a bilateral military dispute to a complex regional security problem, the DPRK nuclear issue requires multiparty dialogues to resolve, for which all the participants have to be on the same page. Beijing and Washington agree that denuclearization and peace must be restored on the peninsula. It's therefore a pity that Trump said in the ROK on Tuesday that the US will respond accordingly to the DPRK's actions, and is ready to use its full range of military capabilities "if need be", while Rodong Sinmun, a DPRK official, vowed to "bolster our nuclear, precious sword of justice".

Pyongyang's pursuit of security and Washington's threat to use military force will only inflame tensions on the Peninsula. However, the fact is that only the two countries can meet each other's respective demands. To help end this pointless game of pointing fingers, China has urged the two sides to take into account their respective paramount concerns before it's too late and again proposed the "suspension for suspension" initiative, meaning the DPRK suspends its nuclear and missile program in exchange for the US suspending its major military drills with its allies in the region. Apart from that, China also suggested the two sides adopt the "dual-track" approach to break the deadlock.

China has been continuously urging both the US and the DPRK to act and issue statements with full responsibility, and make genuine efforts to understand each other's concerns and avoid misunderstanding.

In fact, the US' obsession with imposing more severe sanctions on the DPRK has succeeded only in pushing dialogue further off the table and prompting Pyongyang to adopt a more aggressive tone and posture. Some China critics have gone even further and called for sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals that have business connections with the DPRK, at the risk of hurting China-US cooperation.

Neither does China want a nuclear-armed DPRK nor has it refrained from carrying through the United Nations Resolution 2371 and 2375. But a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is not possible if the US keeps intimidating the DPRK and its top leader with threats of "resolute strikes".

The role of sanctions and China in the geopolitical entanglement is where Beijing and Washington disagree with each other the most. And Pyongyang's determination to become a nuclear power can't be changed unless Washington agrees to Beijing's "suspension for suspension" proposal.

The author is an associate professor of National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He is currently a visiting senior fellow of the Atlantic Council located in Washington DC.

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