China warns against destabilising Korean region

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.   | Photo Credit: CHINA DAILY

"If the tensions worsen, it would be a disaster for all parties. As a neighbour China will not sit by and see disruption to stability."

An assertive China on Tuesday warned it would not hesitate to intervene if its fundamental interests in the Korean peninsula were harmed, and made it plain that its deep rooted ties with the South China Sea could not be rivalled by any foreign power.

At an annual press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, set several markers to explain the broad thrust of Beijing’s evolving, and increasingly bold, foreign policy, where growing competition with the United States was the underlying theme.

In his detailed response to a query on spiralling tensions in the Koreas, Mr. Wang said that China would not “sit by and see” the destablisation of the peninsula.

“If the tensions worsen or even get out of control, it would be a disaster for all parties. As the largest neighbour of the peninsula China will not sit by and see fundamental disruption to stability on the peninsula, and will not sit by and see unwarranted damage to China’s security interest.”

Yet, in order to defuse tensions, Mr. Wang, advocated a multi-pronged approach where denuclearisation of the peninsula would be combined with signing of a formal peace treaty. That would replace the 1953 Armistice, which was meant to "insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved."

“In terms of negotiations China has put forward a proposal to pursue on parallel tracks, the denuclearisation of the peninsula and the replacement of the armistice agreement with a peace treaty.” Mr. Wang added: “Denuclearisation is a firm goal of the international community; replacing the armistice with a peace treaty is a reasonable concern of the DPRK. The two can be negotiated in parallel, implemented in steps and resolved with reference to each other. This would be an equitable, reasonable and workable solution.”

The Korean Peninsula is on edge following the start on Monday of the largest-ever U.S.-South Korea military exercise, which has been fused with North Korea’s threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

To a volley of questions on the South China Sea where a back-and-forth between Beijing and Washington has escalated following recent “freedom of navigation” naval patrols by the U.S., Mr. Wang strongly reiterated his country’s claims on the disputed Spratly islands.

“The Nansha islands otherwise known as the Spratly are China’s integral territory. Every Chinese has an obligation, to defend them and China has not and will not make new territorial claims,” Mr. Wang observed.

Analysts point out that the South China Sea has rapidly emerged as an area of contested hegemony between China and the U.S., which has already amassed forces in the Asia-Pacific under its “Pivot to Asia” doctrine.

In an obvious reference to the U.S., Mr. Wang asserted that, “I want to remind some people that freedom of navigation doesn’t give them the licence to do whatever they want.”

“If someone wants to muddy the waters in the South China Sea and to destabilise Asia, China will not agree to it and I think the overwhelming majority of countries in the region will not allow that to happen.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister stressed that China’s emotional and historical bonds with the South China Sea could not be rivalled by any other power. “China was the first country to discover, name, develop and manage the South China Sea islands. Our ancestors have lived and worked here for generations. So we know and love the place more than anyone else.”

He added: “The South China Sea has seen colonial invasion and illegal occupation and now some people are trying to make waves, some others showing off force. However, like the tide that comes and goes none of these attempts will make any impact. History will prove who is a mere guest and who the real host is.”

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 6:38:14 PM |

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