Posted August. 12, 2017 07:15,
Updated August. 12, 2017 07:26
US President Donald Trump continued to talk tough on North Korea, saying there would be "an event the likes of which nobody's seen before." He also said, “Fire and fury may not tough enough.” North Korea is stirring up its residents using media. Large mass gatherings are taking place and the regime’s leaders are on a full alert. China’s state-run the Global Times said in an editorial, “China will remain neutral should North Korea attack Guam and prompt retaliation from the U.S.”
“Neutrality” in the editorial amid escalating tensions between Washington and Pyeongyang is interpreted as a serious warning against North Korea that it would no longer protect the North running out of control. Of course, the Chinese newspaper said that it would clearly deter Washington and Seoul from attempting the removal of the North Korean regime through military attacks. While it might seem that Beijing opposes an attack from any side, it means that North Korea has the primary responsibility for the escalated tensions and Beijing would not tolerate a reckless provocation like an attack on Guam.
Chinese President Xi Jinping advocated North Korea when he met President Moon Jae-in in Germany last month, saying, “We have had a blood-tied relationship with the North and the relationship has not changed fundamentally.” The 1961 Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which obliges China to intervene in case of war. However, Beijing intends that it would let North Korea pay the price, regardless of the responsibilities under the treaty, if North Korea makes a reckless provocation that prompts a military attack by the U.S.
The Global Times is a sister newspaper of China’s communist party mouthpiece People’s Daily, which covers only official views. While it is relatively less serious than People’s Daily, it has revealed the Chinese leaders’ thoughts frankly. In May, the Global Times warned that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are in violation of the 1961 Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance.” Nevertheless, North Korea ignored the ally’s warning, launching a series of missiles. Had China cut off oil supplies to North Korea earlier, it could have prevented Kim Jong Un from making reckless provocations. However, China took an ambiguous stance, leaving the North to continue provocations.
Now is the time for Beijing to take action. It has the only party that can have an influence on North Korea by changing the Trump administration’s "maximum pressure" to "maximum engagement" in a few days. President Trump said on Friday, “I think China can do a lot more.” China’s warning should not be just words. It should go beyond declaring “passive non-intervention” to put pressure on and persuade North Korea. The fate of the Kim Jong Un regime after a reckless provocation would doom China’s future. China calls itself a great responsible country. It is not time to just do kibitzing or sitting on its hand any more.