Ambassador Cui Tiankai's Op-ed on USA Today
2017/05/10

On May 9, 2017, Ambassador Cui Tiankai’s op-ed was published by USA Today. Here is the full text of the article:

China is deeply concerned about the current tension on the Korean Peninsula, which poses a grave threat to our national security. China has more than 750 miles of borders with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The DPRK nuclear test site is just dozens of miles away from Northeast China. Any accident, nuclear or military, will have a catastrophic spillover on us.

China has done its utmost for years to help stop the DPRK nuclear program. We voted for all the United Nations Security Council resolutions sanctioning the DPRK for its nuclear tests, and have been faithfully implementing them. Most recently, we suspended coal imports from the DPRK for the whole year. And we will continue to enhance law enforcement along our border with the DPRK.

The pressure, economic and military, on the DPRK continues to build up. Yet how much is sufficient without triggering a humanitarian crisis or pushing Pyongyang into desperation? Another Iraq, Libya or Syria in Northeast Asia is a nightmare for all. Sanctioning alone will not work. Pressure must be coupled with direct talks with the DPRK.

However, China does not hold the key to the issue. While the U.S. worries about the DPRK nuclear ambition, the DPRK justifies it by the U.S. threat to its survival. Suspicion is mutual and runs deep. Both sides are locked in a chicken-or-egg dilemma, and neither intends to take the first step.

To break this impasse, China has proposed that the DPRK suspend its nuclear and missile activities, and the U.S. its targeted joint military exercises with the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The two sides should talk to each other, as required by the Security Council resolutions.

It is not an award to anyone, nor will it solve the issue overnight. But it is a good first step toward building trust and defusing crises, which, if managed well, will bring about parallel progress in denuclearization and a peace mechanism on the peninsula.

China’s goals are clear and consistent — a nuclear-weapon-free peninsula, regional peace and stability, and a peaceful means to achieve them. These should be the shared goals that serve the interests of all parties, including the U.S.

 

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