China's influence over North Korea should not be overestimated: China Daily

Chitraveni Kumar: Anti-war activists shout slogans with placards reading "Stop war exercise" during a rally denouncing the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint US-South Korea military exercise, near the US embassy in Seoul on August 22.
Chitraveni Kumar: Anti-war activists shout slogans with placards reading "Stop war exercise" during a rally denouncing the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint US-South Korea military exercise, near the US embassy in Seoul on August 22. PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on Aug 25, the paper says peninsula talks only way to end circle of hostility

Two days after the Republic of Korea and the United States began their annual military exercises to the south of the Korean Peninsula, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday.

The missile, fired from near the coastal city of Sinpo, reportedly flew about 500km before it fell into the Sea of Japan, farther than those in previous tests.

The test, which has once again violated UN Security Council resolutions, has further raised tensions in North-east Asia and compromised international efforts to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

The possibility that North Korea could one day arm ballistic missiles with miniaturised nuclear warheads poses viable challenges to peace and stability in the region, especially since Pyongyang has warned of preemptive nuclear attacks against its enemies in the face of what it perceives to be threats to its security.

Pyongyang will no doubt argue that the test was in response to the ongoing military exercises by South Korea and the US and the planned deployment of the US' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in the ROK.

Such tit-for-tat responses by both sides to the "provocative moves" of the other have created a vicious circle of hostility and suspicion that is fueled by fear and mistrust. This spiral of animosity will never end until the parties concerned sit down and talk.

The test-firing of the missile took place as the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea ROK were meeting in Tokyo, the first such meeting since March 2015.

It is encouraging that despite the differences that have otherwise cooled relations among the three countries, they expressed their shared opposition to and condemnation of the missile test and called on countries to implement the sanctions imposed on the DPRK by the UN.

That the three neighbours share common ground on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is indispensable if a peaceful resolution to the crisis is to be achieved through negotiations.

China has, and will continue, to play its part in pushing forward efforts to make the peninsula nuclear free. But to overestimate the sway it holds over North Korea, and to blame it for "a lack of pressure" over the latter is unrealistic and unfair.

The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue essentially stems from Pyongyang's existential concerns and the conventional weapons superiority that it perceives to be aligned against it. While opposing its nuclear program, China has consistently held that North Korea's security concerns are genuine and should be addressed.

This is the only viable approach to ending the crisis and the one that China consistently upholds.

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China Daily is a member of The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 21 newspapers.