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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

Trust key to stability on Korean Peninsula

(Global Times)

09:01, March 02, 2012

Pyongyang and Washington announced Wednesday that North Korea would halt nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment in return for US food aid. China welcomes the breakthrough.

The stability of the Korean Peninsula is key to Chinese strategic interests since China has worked devotedly for this goal. But China's influence is somewhat limited.

Some attribute this to inadequate Chinese efforts. The reality is more complicated. The region is filled with various forces and no one party can handle them all fully.

The result drawn from bilateral negotiations in Beijing last week is what China wants to see. But the possibility of the situation going awry cannot be ruled out.

Admittedly, China has a larger influence on North Korea than other major powers. This influence is built upon geographic, historical and political advantages. Beijing shall not be afraid of intensifying friendly relations with Pyongyang.

However, this friendship has its limits. We should not have any illusions. North Korea has formed a tradition of being fiercely diplomatically independent. It will not heed appeals from China concerning nuclear weapons and policy toward the US and South Korea. Nerveless, it has much more strategic trust with China and both sides can communicate sincerely on key issues.

North Korea will understand the significance China plays for its long-term security. Any movement should not come at the cost of damaging Chinese interests.

As its power grows, Beijing's influence on Pyongyang will increase. Some are worried that North Korea may turn the gun on China one day. If this were to happen, Chinese diplomatic failures would be solely to blame.

China must help build up trust on the Korean Peninsula and believe its ties will never be overridden by US ties with North Korea.

China's major task is to promote peace in the peninsula but if this fails, it will not be the largest victim. China, the US and South Korea all wish for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program, but differ on their solutions to the matter. The US and South Korea consider sanctions to be vital, but China believes that soft measures to calm North Korean worries are more important.

Each side feels it is the least to blame. Reaching a settlement remains difficult. China shall handle the matter carefully without anxiety. Harmony benefits all.

China cannot decide the affairs of the peninsula but does wield major influence. The country must remain friends with North Korea and not make enemies of others.

Such an attitude is significant for both internal and external affairs. Seoul has remained intact despite threats from North Korea. Given this, what reason does China have to worry?

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Vanessa Hall at 2012-03-03121.212.10.*
What they must first understand is how to build that trust, and develop a strategy to continue to build it and maintain it.
  

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