Posted April. 13, 2017 07:21,
Updated April. 13, 2017 07:27
Chinese media reported that U.S. and Chinese presidents had a telephone conversation on Wednesday to exchange views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Considering that such reports come first from the country of the leader who is the caller, it is very likely that Chinese President Xi Jinping called his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump. At a time when the nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is heading towards the Korean Peninsula, the leaders of the two greatest powers having a telephone conversation just four days after 7-hour meeting at last week's summit indicates the urgency of the situation.
In a situation in which U.S. strategic weapons are deployed near China, it is likely that Washington's pressures on Beijing will not end up mere bluffing. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has oriented his North Korea policy to increasing economic and political pressures rather than resorting to military means and approved the adoption of secondary boycotts against China if Beijing refuses to put pressure on Pyongyang.
After stressing on April 2 the possibility of the United States going it alone on North Korea, he tweeted on Tuesday, "I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!" He added, "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A." The message contains both a stick and a carrot for China.
China has shown subtle changes in its position since the Trump-Xi summit. China's state-run daily Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times) on Monday urged North Korea not to "misjudge" the situation as the U.S. is not bluffing with the redeployment of its aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula. On the following day, the newspaper put further pressure on the North, saying if the North crosses the line once again this month, Beijing will have no choice but to consent to additional U.N. sanctions.
If China makes a change its North Korea policy, it should not be a temporary one forced by U.S. pressure. China is largely responsible for the failed efforts to denuclearize the North, as Beijing has embraced Pyongyang by pretending to sanctioning it but actually providing support. According to a U.S. firm analyzing financial sanctions, some 600 Chinese companies are the source of 40 percent of North Korea's foreign exchange revenues. Sanctioning just those companies could deal a fatal blow to the North's finances. We hope that at this opportunity, the Chinese leadership will ponder upon with which country between North Korea and South Korea it will open the 21st century. The Chinese leadership should also contemplate on whether China would suffer losses in its core interest by protecting North Korea. If China changes, South Korea will also fully understand and consider Beijing's concerns over facing U.S. troops rights across its border after the collapse of the North Korean regime.