Chinese State Councilor in charge of foreign affairs is visiting North Korea for the first time in 11 years. Upon this opportunity, China is emphasizing to actively participate in discussing issues concerning the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it would continuously do what is necessary to build a peace regime in the Korean Peninsula. While President Moon Jae-in made phone calls with the heads of neighboring countries after the inter-Korean summit on last Friday and shared its results, conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping is continuously being delayed.
After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit to China at the end of March, North Korea-China relationship appeared to recover rapidly yet a delicate atmosphere between the two countries is present. “China is a big mountain next to the Korean Peninsula,” argued a state led media. “Collective agreement of achieving denuclearization and permanent peace in the Korean Peninsula cannot even be considered without the participation of China.” Subtle complaint and nervousness can be read in the part that especially emphasizes the active role of China, worrying about “China passing” where China is excluded from discussions concerning the Korean Peninsula.
Most of all, it can be interpreted that such atmosphere of China is due to an agreement to ‘push forward holing a 3-nation talk of the two Koreas and the United States or 4-nation talk of the two Koreas, the United States and China for the declaration of the end of the Korean war and the transferring the ceasefire treaty into a peace agreement this year.” Panmunjom Declaration goes beyond the agreement of ‘pushing forward a declaration of the end of the war between the head of the three or four nations’ of the declaration by the heads on October 4, 2007 and specifies participating nations. In other words, Korea’s participation was specified whereas the possibility of China being excluded was magnified. China, which was a combatant nation of the Korean War and a signatory of the ceasefire treaty may have felt displeasure.
China’s participation may serve as an element that makes signing a peace treaty even more complicated. In particular, it is highly probable that China may seek the easing out South Korea-U.S. alliance including the withdrawal of USFK. China, however, has no chance but to participate in building a peace regime in whatever form it may take as the peace of the Korean Peninsula can only be robust with the cooperation of China. Nevertheless, there is a need for China to look back on its dual attitude of worrying the collapse of North Korea rather than oppressing denuclearization of North Korea. Now is the time for China to focus on complete denuclearization of North Korea. Only then, will it be able to participate in four-nation talks.