Key to Peninsula: Sanction and Dialogue

By Lan Shunzheng

The sixth nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) took place several days ago. Strong repercussions across the international community are still on the rise.

On Sept. 3, the DPRK Sunday detonated a hydrogen bomb that could be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The test, which has been widely denounced, has further aggravated the sensitive and complicated confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.

Attitude of the US and ROK: Sanctions and THAAD

Taking the test as a provocation, the Republic of Korea (ROK) responded quickly.

The ROK accelerated the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interception system.

On Sept. 7, four more THAAD launchers and other materials were transported to the site in southeast South Korea.

Previously, on April 26, two launchers and other equipment had been delivered to the site in the southeast of the country. A THAAD unit comprises six truck-mounted launchers, 48 interceptors (eight per launcher), and AN/TPY-2 radar and other ancillary equipment.

In addition, the ROK has negotiated with the United States to import sophisticated weapons and advanced technology to strengthen the alliance of the two countries and upgrade its self-defense capability. At the request of ROK President Moon Jae-in, American President Donald Trump has agreed to scale up the quality and quantity of advanced weapons that the ROK can buy from the United States, which are worth billions of dollars.

Moreover, the ROK and the United States plan to impose the strongest sanctions on the DPRK. They may attempt to interrupt the supply of oil, prohibit dispatching employees, and cut off foreign trade ties.

On Sept. 7, ROK President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Russia. They called for stronger sanctions on DPRK rather than dialogue. Both leaders agreed to make a joint effort to persuade China and Russia to halt oil supplies to the DPRK and urge the United Nations Council to agree to more severe sanctions.

Concerning the nuclear test undertaken by the DPRK, the ROK has mirrored the attitude of the United States and Japan. They insist on sanctions; the tighter the better.

What they fail to realize is that sanctions alone will not solve the peninsula issue, but might push the DPRK to continue its nuclear program. As a result, the situation will worsen.

China’s Firm Positon: Dialogue and Peaceful Way

In contrast to those seeing sanctions as the key, China always prefers dialogue.

In a phone conversation on Sept. 6, Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged views on the peninsula situation with US President Donald Trump. President Xi insisted that China is firmly committed to achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and upholding the international nuclear nonproliferation mechanism.

Xi also said that China has always stood by the idea of securing peace and stability on the peninsula, and of resolving the issue through dialogue and consultations. He also said that efforts should focus on diplomacy, a comprehensive use of policies, and a proactive search for long-term solutions to move toward a peaceful settlement and resolution regarding the peninsula nuclear issue.

Trump said the United States has great concerns about the current situation and it attaches great importance to the significant role of China in helping resolve the issue.

On Sept. 7, President Xi discussed the DPRK’s nuclear program over the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Xi stressed that China is committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Past experience tells us that the issue can be resolved only through dialogue and consultation in a peaceful way, Xi said, adding that concerted efforts by the international community are needed to solve the Korean Peninsula issue.

Germany supports solving the issue by political means and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China in order to find a solution as soon as possible, Merkel said.

On Sept. 7, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met  the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara of Nepal in Beijing. They jointly spoke to the press after their talks.

In response to a question concerning the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue from a Reuters’ journalist, Wang Yi said that the DPRK’s new nuclear missile test , to which China is resolutely opposed, was a serious violation of UN Security Council resolutions and impacted the international nuclear non-proliferation system.

He insisted that China believes that sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation, and only the combination of sanction and dialogue can unblock the Peninsula nuclear issue.

Therefore, he suggested that any new actions taken by the international community against the DPRK should be based on the principles of curbing the expansion of the DPRK’s nuclear missile program and helping to facilitate a resumption of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible. He believed that neither side should be neglected. The general trend of peaceful settlement must not be reversed, and the goal of denuclearization on the Peninsula is unshakable.

The Latest UN Resolution: Sanction and Peace in Peninsula

On Monday Sept. 11, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to impose fresh sanctions on the DPRK over its nuclear test, which violated previous Security Council resolutions.

The resolution will reduce the DPRK’s oil supply by almost 30 percent, and bans all its textile exports (worth 800 million U.S. dollars) as well as remittances of DPRK laborers from abroad.

With the new measures, 90 percent of the DPRK’s exports are now banned.

The resolution followed a council resolution on Aug. 5, which imposed a ban on the export of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood from the DPRK, among other restrictive measures.

China supported the UN Security Council in taking necessary measures regarding the DPRK’s nuclear test, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Sept. 12.

He said that China approves the UN Security Council’s necessary measures in response to the DPRK’s nuclear test, which severely violated the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

At the same time he noted that the Resolution reaffirms the commitment to maintaining the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, calls for peaceful settlement of the issue through diplomatic and political means, supports the resumption of six-party talks, and emphasizes that all relevant parties should take measures to reduce tensions on the Peninsula.

The Chinese side hopes that the contents of the Resolution can be implemented in a comprehensive and complete manner, Geng said.

Geng also expressed the view that the DPRK should observe the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, respect the collective voice of the international community, and rein back its nuclear and missile programs. The US, the ROK and other parties should also avoid taking actions that will further complicate the situation, he said.

Are sanctions or dialogue the most efficient way to unravel the nuclear issue of the DPRK? Perhaps a combination of the two is the right answer.

Currently, the highest priority is to prevent the situation from deteriorating, which requires the cooperation of the international community. However, the steps the United States and the ROK have taken are promoting the deployment of THAAD, a move to which the Korean people are opposed. Moreover, they do not take the strategic safety of China and Russia into consideration, and also inflame the situation on the peninsula.

In order to resolve the issue, China has proposed a “suspension for suspension” initiative and a “dual-track approach”.

China hopes that all sides can sit down peacefully and find a balanced solution to the issue through dialogue.