BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - For those convinced a military solution to the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula is unavoidable, Chinese President Xi Jinping's latest emphasis on "resolving problems through peaceful means" in a phone conversation with his United States counterpart on Wednesday should act as a reminder that the worst-case scenario should and can be avoided.
Tensions on the peninsula have spiraled to such a degree that both Pyongyang and Washington appear to be readying themselves for a costly showdown.
After dispatching the US Navy Carl Vinson carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday again vowed to "solve the North Korean problem", with or without Beijing's help.
North Korea, however, has shown little sign of backing off. Instead, it responded with a threat of nuclear attack on US forces in the region and "in the US mainland".
But the bellicose rhetoric aside, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun made a crucial point that testifies to the special significance Xi placed on a peaceful resolution when he urged people not to "get blinded by exaggerated assessment of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula".
The truth is that although the prospect of war may seem real, no party really wants a war. Many sources indicate Washington is increasing the pressure in the hope that Pyongyang will change course without a shot being fired. Otherwise, it would not have insisted that Beijing could and should help rein in Pyongyang.
Nor should we neglect what happened on Tuesday in the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang. In sharp contrast to its war rhetoric, Pyongyang reinstated its long-gone foreign affairs committee, appointing two diplomats known for dealing with their US and South Korean counterparts in past negotiations. Maybe this is not intended specifically for the current crisis. But it does reveal an interest in diplomacy on Pyongyang's part.
South Korea, on the other hand, knows full well it would be the foremost casualty should war break out, and that a peaceful removal of the nuclear/missile threat from North Korea would be in its best interests.
Since peace is in the interests of all stakeholders, they should not give up on a non-military solution.
And the first step is to stop adding fuel to fire.
North Korea, in particular, must refrain from conducting another nuclear/missile provocation on Saturday, when celebrating the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding father.
While the US and South Korea should suspend their large-scale military exercises and cease their belligerent brinkmanship.
A misstep by either side at such a critical juncture could prove disastrous, and the damage irreparable.
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