Category Archives: International News
North Korean Nuclear Issue in China-U.S. Relations
Since the North Korean nuclear issue emerged in the early 1990s, it has been of growing importance to China-U.S. relations. On the one hand, China and the United States basically take the same position on the issue: They both call for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and oppose the development of nuclear weapons by the two Koreas; and they advocate peaceful settlement of the issue through the Six-Party Talks, because it will determine the prospects for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the peace and security of Northeast Asia.However, on the other hand, as major global powers, China and the United States play different roles in the security pattern of the peninsula, which means they have different relations with the two Koreas as well as disagreement on how to peacefully settle the nuclear issue.
How to consolidate the common ground and shared interests on the issue between China and the United States, how to promote their cooperation in the denuclearization of the peninsula and how to reduce mutual suspicions and disagreement on issues that are major concerns for both will not only contribute to a nuclear-free peninsula with lasting peace and stability, but also have a profound impact on the new model of major-country relations between China and the United States.
Basic Policies of China and the United States on the North Korean Nuclear Issue
Due to the Korean War and the lasting influence of the Cold War, China and the United States have entirely different bilateral relations with North Korea, but they share similar positions on the denuclearization of the peninsula and similar concerns.
Throughout the Cold War, China and the United States provided large quantities of military aid to their respective allies, namely South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK), in the case of the United States and North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in the case of China, but neither offered aid that could generate nuclear or missile proliferation. After South Korea’s secret development of nuclear weapons was revealed in the 1970s, the U.S. government carried out direct interventions to force South Korea to give up the plan.
After the Cold War, two strategic and historic events significantly altered the security pattern of mutual deterrence between North and South Korea: The first referred to the radical change of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe so that North Korea lost a vital foreign economic aid provider and a strong military supporter; second, China accommodated the trend of the times characterized by the end of the Cold War and a thaw in the relations between the two Koreas; thus it normalized its relations with South Korea, leading to a structural change in the “balance of power” between the China-DPRK alliance and the U.S.-ROK alliance. Therefore, the Cold War between China and South Korea came to an end while the Cold War between the two Koreas continued.
The two aforementioned events marked the end of indirect trilateral military collaboration among North Korea, China and the Soviet Union, while trilateral ties among South Korea, the United States and Japan were strengthened. This change fueled the strategic determination of North Koreato accelerate its nuclear weapons program. The nuclear issue became the security focus of the peninsula as well as a new area where exchange, cooperation and conflicts between China and the United States took place.
China has a consistent and clear position on North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. Whether during or after the Cold War, it has always called for a peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons and opposed any import, deployment or storage of nuclear weapons from abroad by North Korea, as well as the development of nuclear weapons by either Korea. Therefore, although China has been providing extensive and large-scale aid to North Korea since the 1950s, it has never offered aid that might facilitate North Korea’s nuclear weapon development or delivery.
Since the nuclear issue escalated in 1994, China has always made it clear in its bilateral exchange with North Korea that it would firmly oppose North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. China denounced North Korea’s three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 and it supported and abided by related resolutions and sanctions imposed on North Korea by the UN Security Council. In September 2013, the relevant government departments in China issued an administrative instruction prohibiting any Chinese enterprises from exporting to North Korea more than 900 civilian-military dual-use or sensitive products, a long list of over 300 pages.
Besides, in China’s view, the North Korean nuclear issue is not a simple matter of nuclear proliferation, but a strategic and comprehensive issue concerning the national security of North Korea. Given that, in the efforts to promote a North Korea free of nuclear weapons, consideration should also be given to North Korea’s security, political, economic and diplomatic concerns.
With this in mind, when the North Korean nuclear crisis broke out for a second time in early 2003, leading to acute tension between North Korea and the United States, China made concerted diplomatic efforts to initiate the Six-Party Talks among North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan in August 2003. The talks were held under the theme of “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. China also emphasized that the six parties must ensure the denuclearization of the peninsula rather than just North Korea. The Six-Party Talks aim to promote a nuclear-weapons-free North Korea, and establish an institutional arrangement to ensure neither side of the peninsula tests, produces, accepts, possesses, stores, deploys or uses nuclear weapons. Denuclearization refers to the military denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; both the Koreas still have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the same as other sovereign states.Thanks to the advocacy and mediation by the Chinese delegation, members of the Six-Party Talks emphasized North Korea’s right of peaceful use of nuclear energy in their September 19 Joint Statement.
As for the denuclearization of North Korea, China has maintained a consistent position, namely promoting the Six-Party Talks by focusing on the nuclear issue itself while removing the external impediment, which is the hostile external environment faced by North Korea. Through the talks, China hopes that a package of comprehensive solutions can be agreed upon by the six parties based on the principles and objectives defined by the September 19 Joint Statement, and progress can be made in the normalization of the relations between North Korea and other countries by replacing the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 with a permanent peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula. China also hopes that a cooperation mechanism for Northeast Asia can be established in which North Korea is treated as an equal member.
Unlike China, whose position has remained consistent, the United States has made complicated adjustments in its fundamental policy toward the North Korean nuclear issue. On the one hand, the Washington upholds the basic policy of a nuclear-weapons-free Korean Peninsula; on the other hand, throughout the 20 years of the Clinton administration, the Bush administration and the Obama administration, the United States has adopted three totally different attitudes and policies toward the issue, creating huge uncertainty and wavering.
China ends one-child policy after 35 years
China has scrapped its one-child policy, allowing all couples to have two children for the first time since draconian family planning rules were introduced more than three decades ago.
The announcement followed a four-day Communist party summit in Beijing where China’s top leaders debated financial reforms and how to maintain growth at a time of heightened concerns about the economy.
China will “fully implement a policy of allowing each couple to have two children as an active response to an ageing population”, the party said in a statement published by Xinhua, the official news agency. “The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population,”
Some celebrated the move as a positive step towards greater personal freedom in China. But human rights activists and critics said the loosening – which means the Communist party continues to control the size of Chinese families – did not go far enough.
For months there has been speculation that Beijing was preparing to abandon the divisive family planning rule, which was introduced in 1980 because of fears of a population boom.
Demographers in and outside China have long warned that its low fertility rate – which experts say lies somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5 children a woman – was driving the country towards a demographic crisis.
Since 2013, there has been a gradual relaxation of China’s family planning laws that already allowed minority ethnic families and rural couples whose firstborn was a girl to have more than one child. Thursday’s announcement that all couples would be allowed two children caught many experts by surprise.
History showed that countries with a very large number of unmarried men of military age were more likely to pursue aggressive, militarist foreign policy initiatives, Tsang said.
In one of the most shocking recent cases of human rights abuses related to the once-child policy, a woman who was seven months pregnant was abducted by family planning officials in Shaanxi province in 2012 and forced to have an abortion.
Opponents say the policy has created a demographic “timebomb”, with China’s 1.3 billion-strong population ageing rapidly, and the country’s labour pool shrinking. The UN estimates that by 2050 China will have about 440 millionpeople over 60. The working-age population – those between 15 and 59 – fell by 3.71 million last year, a trend that is expected to continue.
Experts said the relaxation of family planning rules is unlikely to have a lasting demographic impact, particularly in urban areas where couples were now reluctant to have two children because of the high cost.
“Just because the government says you can have another child, it doesn’t mean the people will immediately follow,” said Liang Zhongtang, a demographer at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science.
Syria ready for Geneva peace talks
Syria is ready to take part in peace talks in Geneva and hopes that the dialogue will help it form a national unity government, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Thursday during a visit to Beijing.
The U.N. Security Council last Friday unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an international road map for a Syrian peace process, a rare show of unity among major powers on a conflict that has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.The U.N. plans to convene peace talks in Geneva towards the end of January.
Mr. Moualem, who spoke to reporters in English, said he had told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Syria was “ready to participate in the Syrian-Syrian dialogue in Geneva without any foreign interference”.
“Our delegation will be ready as soon as we receive a list of the opposition delegation,” he said. “We hope that this dialogue will be successful to help us in having a national unity government,” Mr. Moualem said, standing next to Mr. Wang at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“This government will compose a constitutional committee to look for a new Constitution with a new law of election so the parliamentary election will be held within the period of 18 months, more or less.”
Friday’s resolution gives U.N. blessing to a plan negotiated earlier in Vienna that calls for a ceasefire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition and a roughly two-year timeline to create a unity government and hold elections.
But the obstacles to ending the war remain daunting, with no side in the conflict able to secure a clear military victory. Despite their agreement at the UN, the major powers are bitterly divided on who may represent the opposition as well as on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mr. Wang over the weekend invited Syrian government and opposition figures to come to China as it looks to ways to help with the peace process. Mr. Wang declined to answer directly when asked if China thought Mr. Assad should remain in power or step down. “China’s position is very clear. We believe Syria’s future, its national system, including its leadership, should be decided and set by the people of Syria,” he said.
“China’s role on the Syrian issue is to promote peace and negotiations… China hopes to see peaceful, stable and developing Middle East.”China has played host to both Syrian government and opposition figures before, though it remains a peripheral diplomatic player in the crisis.
While relying on the region for oil supplies, China tends to leave West Asian diplomacy to the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council—the U.S., Britain, France and Russia.
China has its own security concerns in Syria, though it has not joined in the bombing of Islamic State. “China believes that any and all efforts to combat terrorism should be respected and supported,” Mr. Wang said. — Reuters
Paris pact will secure earth for future, says Obama as world leaders hail deal
Within four weeks of its setting the tragic backdrop of a global partnership against terrorism, Paris united the world again, this time to fight the bigger threat of climate change, as world leaders hailed the new climate deal by 195 countries.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday called it a big step forward in securing the planet for future generations and said the agreement showed what was possible when nations stood together. “This agreement represents the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet we’ve got. I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world,” he said. “As a result of the climate agreement, we can be more confident the earth will be in better shape.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has only recently acknowledged the climate change threat, and Chinese President Xi Jinping whose joint statement with Mr. Obama in November 2014 set the tone for the Paris deal, did not personally react to the agreement.
Representatives of both countries welcomed it.
“In Paris, there have been many revolutions over the centuries. Today, it is the most beautiful and the most peaceful revolution that has just been accomplished,” French President Francois Hollande said.
The agreement represents “a huge step forward in securing the future of the planet,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the deal would oblige the entire global community to act against climate change.