Misjudgment of situation biggest risk to peninsula

China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-25 07:38

If the risks surrounding the Korean Peninsula were perceived to be dangerously high, it was because of the fear that anything could happen at any time in the tense standoff that had developed between Washington and Pyongyang.

But now that the Donald Trump administration has demonstrated impressive patience for diplomacy - despite its announcement of the end to an "era of strategic patience" - and it is seeking closer engagement with peace-minded China on the matter, the risks would appear to have abated considerably.

However, the situation is still inflammable.

For as the sanctions imposed by the United Nations begin to bite deeper, the possibility that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea might become reckless out of desperation has never been higher.

Not just the immediate stakeholders, but the whole world is holding its breath on Tuesday, the 85th Anniversary of the Korean People's Army, waiting to see whether Pyongyang will conduct another nuclear test, or major missile launch.

Of course a nuclear test, or missile launch, would not constitute the "full-out war" Pyongyang has threatened. And, despite its constant threats, Pyongyang would not embark on such a suicidal course unless it was left with no choice.

In contrast to Pyongyang's war rhetoric, Washington appears very much in line with Beijing on pursuing a peaceful resolution, at least for now.

Beijing has remained constant in advocating no-war, no-chaos on the Korean Peninsula. In his latest phone conversation with Trump on Monday, President Xi Jinping once again stated that position, appealing for restraint at this crucial juncture.

Judging from their recent words and deeds, policymakers in Pyongyang have seriously misread the UN sanctions, which are aimed at its nuclear/missile provocations, not its system or leadership. They have unfairly misrepresented Beijing's role in the process, disregarding its preoccupation with peace, humanitarian concerns and non-interference in the DPRK's domestic affairs. And they have greatly underestimated the international community's - not just any individual stakeholder's - political will to denuclearize the peninsula.

They are at once perilously overestimating their own strength and underestimating the hazards they are brewing for themselves.

They need to reassess the situation so they do not make any misjudgments.

Likewise Washington should continue to exercise restraint and pursue a peaceful resolution to the issue.

There have already been enough shows of force and confrontation, it is time for Pyongyang and Washington to take a step back from their previous rhetoric and instead heed the voices of reason calling for peaceful denuclearization of the peninsula.

(China Daily 04/25/2017 page8)

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