Taking the opportunity of Yeonpyeong Island conflict, with the strongest global fighting capacity, the U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington flew into the Yellow Sea on Sunday to participate in the US-ROK joint military drill. Although seen as a response to a so-called North Korean threat, apparently the US-ROK joint military drill is to put pressure on China. Just as South Korea’s, “Chosunilbo” commented on the 25th, the intention of South Korea is to allow China to assume the responsibility of influence on DPRK. The implication is simply that if China does not constrain North Korea’s “provocative” behavior, then U.S. and South Korea will put pressure on China.
This is clearly the logic behind the scene. China’s basic principle in international relations is mutual non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. On the discord on the Korean Peninsula, in addition to the geographically close relation, why is China expected to exercise impartiality in dealing with issues involving the North and the South? According to the views of media and political circles in South Korea, China must express support for South Korea, which according to these views is absolutely the correct diplomacy. This, without doubt is a diplomatic impoliteness to force someone to do something against his will. From the “Cheonan” to “Yeonpyeong Island “, China has always remained objective – without favoring any party, with the hope that relevant parties keep restraint and not aggravate the situation which could lead to a full scale war, thereby causing instability in Northeast Asia. On this basis, China stressed that it is against any form of military provocation. This also means that, whether it is North Korea or South Korea, or the United States, as long as there is any act of military provocation, China is resolutely opposed.
The showdown in the Peninsula (the military drill) – is a direct response from the parties concerned to China’s disapproval of the military provocation in the region. In this context, there is no ground for China to keep a low profile and retreat from the fronts.
This is understandable. For the people, “one meter line” means the most intimate personal safety distance; for the country, the “one meter line” is the exclusive domain for people to be protected against foreign invasion. This is in line with a traditional Chinese adage, “how can one tolerate others to encroach on one’s preserve.” U.S. aircraft carrier’s entrance into the Yellow Sea is far more than meddling and causing nuisance in the Peninsular, but also a move that targets Beijing and the North East’s major cities – all under the deterrence of United States gunboats. Such scenario is equivalent to opening a history of painful scars on the Chinese people: like in the Second Opium War, British and French troops encroached upon the coastal north of Beijing and Tianjin; and more like China and Japan war on the sea in 1894-1895 when China was defeated both on coastal and land …but today’s China is not the corrupt Qing dynasty of that period.
Some times back, U.S. aircraft carrier threatened to go into the Yellow Sea to have joint military drills with South Korea. China immediately responded in the East China Sea with missile tests. This time how the Chinese would respond is worth the world’s attention. But one thing is certain, the United States repeatedly ignored warnings and opposition from China, and was bent on violating the bottom line of China’s national security to force China to put pressure on North Korea. It is undoubtedly a strategic foul play. After all, in a game between major powers certain rules of the game must be followed. As the U.S. government in the Monroe era had the “Monroe Doctrine” approach to warn European powers that they could not infringe on U.S. geopolitical interests, China is however far from the U.S. in terms of ambition and appetite in ensuring that its “one meter line” security is protected.
It is worth mentioning that, until the time of completing this article, China’s attitude is still that of restraint. However, this does not mean that China is weak. China has sent a clear diplomatic message to South Korea. For the future development of Sino-US relations, and on the Chinese response to US-ROK joint military drill, there could be some counter measures – should such situation arise, China’s showdown will be powerful and shocking.
More importantly, the so called U S-ROK joint military drill failed to play a deterrent effect against North Korea, but sparked a strong reaction of North Korea. North Korea claimed that the action was a declaration of war against the DPRK, and was going to launch the second and third wave of strikes on South Korea. It can be seen that this is purely fueled by the United States. It pointed to North Korea with an intention against China. South Korea is being used as a shield by the US to destabilize a region that hugely relies on China.
About the Author: Zhang Jinwei is a Chinese Columnist. Original article appeared in Chinese; translated to English by Wang Wenxia, and edited by Manzie Vincent Doh.