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Op-Ed: Trump threatens DPRK with 'total destruction' while China calls for peaceful settlement

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    10:27, September 20, 2017

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The Korean Peninsula is on edge, made more so by words and actions that worsen tensions. The US has been threatening the DPRK, installing THAAD launchers on the Korean Peninsula, and conducting joint military exercises, including a show of force on Monday. And on Tuesday, at his first address to the UN General Assembly, US President Donald Trump turned up the heat in his war of words, calling the DPRK a threat to the entire world and threatening the regime with "total destruction."

Trump's political chest-thumping is unhelpful, and it will only push the DPRK to pursue even riskier polices, because the survival of the regime is at stake. It is time for the US to realize that irresponsible words and actions are backing the DPRK into a corner with no way out, and it would be a tragedy if Trump’s risky game of chicken with the DPRK crosses the point of no return.

The fact that the situation on the Korean Peninsula has gone from bad to worse shows that the US has failed to play its role as a responsible major country. Rather than throw more fuel on the fire and pressure China to defang the DPRK for its own selfish interests, the US should use its great power and influence to do more to break the spiral of escalation and engage the DPRK in dialogue.

As China has stated on numerous occasions, the core of the issue is the security issue between the DPRK and the US, and both countries need to find a way to break out of the security dilemma. Cheerleading for the "total destruction" of the DPRK just increases its insecurity and uncertainty regarding US intentions. A more practical step to resolve the crisis would be to implement China's "suspension-for-suspension" proposal, in which the US would agree to halt its military exercises on the Korean Peninsula in exchange for the DPRK suspending its missile and nuclear tests.

China remains committed to Korean Peninsula denuclearization, but the Chinese side has stressed repeatedly that sanctions and pressure are only part of the solution and should not be the end game. "The US makes a fetish of sanctions and pressure and frequently threatens military action," the overseas edition of the People’s Daily wrote in a recent commentary, adding that sanctions are meant to deter the DPRK's nuclear ambitions and not stifle the regime. "China is willing to play a responsible role as a major country, but will not shoulder the responsibility for the selfish interests of the US," it wrote.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the general direction should head toward a peaceful settlement of the issue, adding that dialogue combined with a set of comprehensive measures is best for seeking a long-term solution. For now, at least, the DPRK has no good reason to trust the US, and it would have no surefire way to guarantee its survival if it suddenly agreed that "denuclearization is its only acceptable future," as Trump declared to the world. Rather than hurl threats and try to pass the buck to China, the US should accept its responsibility, and do more to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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