On many occasions, the effective high-level exchanges between China and North Korea have helped tensions on the Korean Peninsula come back from the verge of collapse. Such a mechanism was again evident Friday when the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, reportedly paid his third visit to China in a year.
The situation in the Korean Peninsula has reached an impasse due to the North’s nuclear tests. It is certain that the security issue tops the agenda for North Korea, which suffers from isolation and poverty thanks to international sanctions. For the North Korean government, this is a pragmatic choice to break the deadlock while securing its current leadership and ensuring economic development.
Meanwhile, the international society has been vocal on the issue. Both the US and South Korea have chosen to impose a blockade on Kim’s regime. Given that it is now cornered, North Korea has no choice but to secure state power instead of seeking economic development. Having been secluded and antagonized by the international community for many years, North Korea wavers frequently between military expansion and economic development.
As a result, the world now needs to take a very patient and flexible attitude in dealing with North Korea. It is fortunate that there still remains an effective communication channel between China and North Korea.
The Cheonan Incident and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island deteriorated the situation on the peninsula further, along with the rise of the third generation to power in the North. However, such a situation may also provide an opportunity for change as North Korea tries to build economic ties with its traditional good neighbor – China. During his past two visits last year, China’s economic achievement impressed Kim Jong-il.
A poor, closed and elusive North Korea does not suit the interests of Northeast Asia. The Sino-DPRK relationship has weathered decades of development and demands that China play a bigger role in helping the North Korean people shake off the shackles of poverty. As for China, it should not duck its responsibility to help its neighbors become prosperous and stable, which is in line with its own interests.
Nowadays, China is busy with mediation to persuade relevant parties to return to the Six Party talks, which remains the most recognized mechanism in balancing the interests of different players in the region. China’s efforts deserve the respect and support of the US, South Korea and all other parties. The channel of Sino-DPRK high-level exchange has played and continues to play a crucial role in thawing the peninsula deadlock, and benefit regional peace and stability.