NEW YORK — South Korea and the US are conducting joint military exercises, while North Korea provokes the world with new missile launches in conflict with international law. Now China is joining the global discourse – and proposes a compromise.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warns of a “frontal crash” between North and South Korea, which would bring the US into a new war. “Both sides keep increasing the stakes, and neither of the two is ready to get out of the way,” he said on Wednesday in Beijing. As a compromise, he suggested that the US and South Korea waive their joint military maneuvers until further notice. North Korea must suspend all their nuclear and missile activities.
Such a compromise would enable the world to “get out of the security dilemma” and recommence talks about the complete elimination of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, Wang said. It is China’s task to curb both sides of the conflict.
International relations have been extraordinary tense since the recent North Korean rocket test. The North Korean regime fired at least four missiles over the Japanese Sea. Three of them are said to have descended inside of the Japanese 200-mile zone. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of “a new level of threat.”
The government in Beijing is criticized internationally for not dealing enough with North Korea, specifically preventing its dictator Kim Jong Un from becoming a full nuclear power. US President Trump has raised similar allegations. China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner and its “permanent ally.”
A suspension of US and South Korea joint military maneuvers lies in Beijing’s interests. They sharply criticize US Navy operations a few weeks ago in the South China Sea. Moreover, the Chinese government is actively interfering with the development of a US missile defense system, manufactured in South Korea. The system’s radar is powerful enough to cover all Chinese mainland territories.
South Korea and the USA have assured all parties that their new missile defense system is designed to be used only against North Korea. But China is highly distrustful. Missile defense is currently the “biggest obstacle” for functional diplomatic relations between Beijing and Seoul, Wang said. The ongoing disputes must be dealt with immediately and forcefully to avoid going further on this “crazy road.”