UN action, plus direct talks, the way to solve DPRK issue
The United Nations Security Council voted to pass a new sanctions resolution against North Korea during a meeting at UN headquarters, Sept. 11. | Jason DeCrow / AP

The following is an editorial from China Daily, “one of the most-frequently quoted Chinese media around the world,” circulated by L’Humanité in English.

The message was clear. As President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on the phone on Sept. 6, China remains “unswervingly committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and preserving the international nuclear nonproliferation regime.”

The message was crucial, too, because it came at a time when the international community is racking its brain over how to respond to Pyongyang’s latest, and most serious, nuclear provocation.

The last thing Beijing wants to see is a war—and the subsequent chaos and refugee exodus—which, besides raising security and humanitarian concerns, would exact an unbearable cost on China’s Northeast, which is already struggling economically.

That Xi reiterated the belief that a long-term solution lies in dialogue and a “comprehensive” approach was only logical. And by highlighting Beijing’s commitment to denuclearization and nonproliferation, Xi made it clear a nuclear-armed, saber-rattling Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is as unacceptable as a war.

Since the almost unavoidable heavy civilian toll a military approach is widely believed to result in has made forcefully disarming Pyongyang a non-option, non-military means remain the only agreeable way to reason with the DPRK and draw all the parties to the negotiation table.

China and Russia have proposed an ideal short-term tension-defusing solution: “dual suspension,” meaning the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea) suspend their joint military drills in exchange for the DPRK halting its nuclear and missile adventure. The proposal is important because the concerned parties’ deep-rooted mutual distrust, especially Pyongyang’s belief in nuclear deterrence, could escalate tensions leading to the catastrophic, yet avoidable, worst-case scenario—a military conflict.

Strong protests from Beijing and Moscow failed to stop Seoul and Washington from deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in the ROK. Four more launchers were installed in the wee hours of Sept. 7. Now, Seoul and Tokyo are considering introducing more powerful US “strategic assets,” tactical nuclear weapons included. Should this pattern of escalation perpetuate, the resultant arms race in Northeast Asia could spiral out of control.

Of course, more efforts should be made to discourage Pyongyang from making fresh trouble. But, as China said on Sept. 7, while the United Nations should take more action against the DPRK, it should also push for dialogue, even the revival of the Six-Party Talks. [The six-party talks were a series of multilateral negotiations held intermittently since 2003 and attended by China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S. with the aim of finding a peaceful resolution to the security concerns resulting from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.]

Perhaps the failure of even the severest sanctions to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program suggests something the world seems to have missed: until the DPRK is assured there is no threat to its security, it will continue its, at times desperate, attempts to possess nuclear weapons as deterrence against the U.S.

If the Six-Party Talks is the means to a long-term solution to the peninsula crisis, addressing the DPRK’s security concern could be the start of that process.

Also see: As missiles fly, Japanese Communists demand U.S.-DPRK talks


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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.