Contributed by Jim Hayes
China has warned that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could spin out of control. What China says is important, because it is a major player in this crisis.
“The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering,” said China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, in Beijing, according to Xinhua.
“We urge all sides to no longer engage in mutual provocation and threats, whether through words or deeds, and don’t push the situation to the point where it can’t be turned around and gets out of hand,” Mr. Wang said after meeting with his visiting French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Xinhua reported.
“No matter who it is, if they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this,” Mr. Wang said.
A United States Navy strike group, led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson has been sent to the region. North Korea’s vice minister, Han Song-ryol, responded by saying that the United States was “becoming more vicious and aggressive” under President Trump and that “we will go to war if they choose.”
Immediately at issue, is North Korea’s plan to carry out a new nuclear underground test, as part of its nuclear weapons program. No one likes to see the proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, many also believe that the nuclear issue should not be used by a big power to impose its will on a small nation. As in the case with North Korea, bullying can only create an atmosphere, where the testing of nuclear weapons is made more likely.
North Korea is threatening to attack American military bases in South Korea, in response to what it calls Washington’s “maniacal military provocations” and accuses its nemesis of bringing nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula. News that the United States has moved to a preemptive military strike policy has not helped.
China has been trying to broker a compromise between the two sides and called for restraint. The emphasis is on the resumption of talks, in order to resolve existing differences. The United States says it will not negotiate, so long as North Korea’s nuclear program remains. North Korea will not abandon it while it feels under threat.
The confrontation poses the risk of nuclear war, which has prompted worldwide concern. Short of this, the situation brings the greatest of world war today, given that the situation could quickly spiral out of control.
The first step towards easing the tension must be for the world to insist that the United States to pull its fleet away from the region and to resume talks. North Korea needs to be encouraged to move away from the nuclear option. For this to happen, there must be a guarantee of non-intervention and reduction of the incentive for a military response. North Korea must also be assisted to shift to alternative and realistic energy options. This is what will provide the best prospects for the ending the nuclear program, as well as remove a serious threat to the whole world.