All parties should exercise restraint and make efforts to reopen Six-Party Talks to build stability in the region
The intensified tensions on the Korean Peninsula have put the whole of Northeast Asia in a dangerous position. The possibility of an "accidental" military skirmish escalating tensions has caused deep concerns among neighboring nations and poses a challenge to both regional peace and China's pursuit of peaceful development.
The biggest threat to the security and peace of the Korean Peninsula comes from an "accidental" engagement and strategic misjudgment between the two Koreas. Another skirmish between the two sides or a strategic misjudgment by either side would aggravate the already tense situation.
There is a view among some in the Republic of Korea (ROK) that the country can take advantage of the current crisis to effect a reunification with the north. This contravenes the universally recognized fact that reunification should be based on furthering dtente between the north and south. It will be impracticable if one party attempts to enforce its own ideas on the other. A lasting solution can only be realized through negotiation.
Considering the severity of the Korean Peninsula situation, all relevant countries should make concerted efforts to ease the tension as soon as possible to pave the way for the reopening of the Six-Party Talks. Efforts should also be made to advance the denuclearization process on the Peninsula and the establishment of an all-acceptable security mechanism in Northeast Asia in a bid to build enduring peace and security in the region.
As a responsible nation in Northeast Asia and the host of the Six-Party Talks, which involve the United States, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas. China has never stopped calling for more efforts from the parties concerned to mitigate tensions on the Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in the region. It has been pursuing shuttle diplomacy and has proposed emergency consultations among the heads of the multilateral talks delegations.
Some in the US believe that the Six-Party Talks are useless and that Washington should not engage in such talks, as they have failed to produce any substantial progress.
However, the Six-Party Talks, aided by the "Sunshine Policy" embraced by two former ROK governments, have played an important role in easing tension on the Peninsula in the past.
On Sept 19, 2004, a joint declaration on how to push for a nuclear-free Peninsula was reached. Both Pyongyang and the US made positive moves. In 2006 and 2007 in particular, substantial progress was made toward achieving this target, including Pyongyang's agreement to destroy a freezing tower at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
This progress should not be discarded because of the complicated problems that have subsequently arisen in the process of their implementation.
At an international meeting held in Seoul at the end of November, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said the multilateral talks still work despite the severity of the current situation.
The Korean Peninsula should go along with its previously confirmed path free of nuclear weapons to fundamentally improve Northeast Asian security. This will only be realized through dialogue and consultation.
For the sake of the Peninsula's security and that of Northeast Asia, China has made unremitting efforts to broker talks among the parties concerned.
All countries in the region should refrain from any provocation and return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
The author is a senior researcher with the Center for US-China Relations at Tsinghua University.