[Interview] China not looking to take a lead role in resolving Korean Peninsula issues, says former senior official

Posted on : 2018-03-09 17:28 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Beijing would likely accept any form of dialogue that can lead to peace and stability
Yang Xiyu
Yang Xiyu

China may be willing to accept any form of dialogue if it can lead to denuclearization, peace, and stability on the Korean Peninsula, China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) researcher Yang Xiyu claimed. Yang also said that while the Six-Party Talks may represent the most effective means, Beijing is not seeking to take the lead in resolving Korean Peninsula issues. The Hankyoreh held a telephone interview on Mar. 7 with Yang, who worked on the initial draft of the Sept. 19 Statement in 2005 while serving as China’s deputy representative to the Six-Party Talks.

Hankyoreh (Hani): How do you rate South and North Korea’s recent approach?

Yang Xiyu (Yang): It’s a rare example of positive progress. If South Korea’s announcement is correct, then North Korea – which has so far been unwilling to address the nuclear issue in inter-Korean dialogue – is showing a new attitude by saying it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons if the military threat [against it] is eliminated and its regime’s security is ensured. The US has its doubts and concerns, but if South Korea can achieve even more positive progress on the denuclearization issue, those questions in the US will start to diminish.

Hani: Do you get any sense that China is being left out of the current activities?

Yang: China’s sole focus is on its policy goals: denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula and sustaining peace and stability over a long period of time. China will actively support any form of channel or dialogue, anyone talking to anyone else, if it achieves this goal. That being said, it is going to be tough [to resolve matters] through inter-Korean dialogue and North Korea-US dialogue alone. A real solution will only be possible through multilateral negotiations and discussions.

Hani: Are you saying the Six-Party Talks framework is the most effective?

Yang: I believe the Six-Party Talks represents the only valid path in resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. It isn’t possible to resolve all these complex issues – denuclearization, guaranteeing the regime’s security, eliminating nuclear weapons – through North Korea-US dialogue alone. North Korea-US negotiations alone will not be effective in resolving these complex issues when there is such deep distrust due to decades of mutual antagonism.

Hani: Isn’t China concerned about losing the initiative?

Yang: China’s emphasis on going through the Six-Party Talks is all about achieving its goals.

Hani: Do you think North Korea might give up its nuclear program?

Yang: It’s hard to imagine North Korea will give up its nuclear program unless the security issues at the heart of the nuclear issue are resolved.

By Kim Oi-hyun, Beijing correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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