Peace on the Korean Peninsula is vital for development and all kinds of business of the state. However, it looks like the harbingers of peace in the region are not quite efficient. Any mismatch and delay could lead to strange adventures. Therefore, peace should be given a serious thought and all efforts should be made to bring tranquillity and harmony on the Korean Peninsula that will deliver prosperity.

In this perspective, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was on a vital visit to Beijing to discuss the second meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. He is desperate to fix the date. This is the fourth visit after March 2018. The visit was somewhat announced in haste. Kim is visiting China from 7 to 10 January, showing much keenness between North Korea and China. Kim is also celebrating his birth day and is keen to solve all of his country problems on the path to development.

Pyongyang and Washington are also trying to arrange a summit meeting ‘sometime soon’ between Kim and Trump. North Korea has for decades pushed for a strategy of bringing in China when solving conundrums on the Korean Peninsula. Kim may be trying to see an alternative path if the United States does not ease sanctions levelled against North Korea. North Korea is eager to finish all sanctions against it and is willing to play a normal role to become a normal state.

The visit is fourth of its kind taken by North Korea since last year. The visit is important and has the full backing of China. In the Singapore Summit in June last year, Kim agreed to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees and new relations with the United States. Let’s see how this will be materialised.

The slow progress on denuclearisation could damage the whole process, which needs to be avoided. If the United States continues with anti-denuclearisation, the path toward de-denuclearization might be affected. There is need to be extra careful towards this cause. Talks between North Korea and the United States should be convened in the ‘not too-distant-future’.

It is expected that Danang in Vietnam or Mongolia will be among the top places to hold the second Trump-Kim summit. Mongolia looks pro-China and Vietnam has tense relations with China over the South China Sea. Indonesia, Hawaii, and Panmunjeom could be other sites. The matter should be quickly resolved between North Korea and the United States. The place of the summit does not matter so significantly.

China wants to see the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang fully flourishing and moving in a right direction and seeking solutions to denuclearisation. This will bring to an end the Cold War-type of hostilities between the two nations.

Both Washington and Pyongyang need to end hostilities rather than using Beijing for their own purposes. In fact, in case of any such tussle between Washington and Pyongyang, Beijing seems uncomfortable although Beijing does want to leave Pyongyang in lurch.

At the moment there are no nuclear tests in North Korea and things are moving quite well. This is a reason for comfort for China. Now everything depends on Washington and Pyongyang, their good-will, and level of diplomacy. Beijing could only extend its good-will and support the process. It must be understood that all matters should be decided between North Korea and the United States. Nothing significant is to be left for China. China might prefer to be a keen observer between any peace settlement between North Korea and the United States.

 

The writer is Consultant at

the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He writes on East

Asian affairs.