South Korea is in a political crisis after the recent impeachment of president Park Geun-hye …
North Korea [DPRK] has been warned not to go past the “point of no return” with another nuclear test by China, as the US and South Korea carry out high-profile military exercises.
An editorial in the Global Times, regarded as a mouthpiece for the ruling Communist Party, said Beijing was hoping for a peaceful outcome but had “very limited influence on the entire situation”.
“The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang has come to a breaking point,” it added, saying that if North Korea followed through on vows to carry out a sixth nuclear test, “it is more likely than ever that the situation will cross the point of no return.
As North Korea’s chief source of trade, food and fuel aid, Beijing has come under increasing pressure to use its influence to dissuade Kim Jong-un from continuing weapons development that has generated international alarm.
But the Chinese government is wary of any measures that could threaten the North Korean regime’s existence, and provoke a potential nuclear war or a new government in Pyongyang beholden to Washington and Seoul.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, Lu Kang, said diplomatic channels remained “smooth [with] normal exchanges,” amid fears of a new test to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army. He added:
“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive and the tension is high. We urge all sides concerned to keep restrained and calm and refrain from taking actions that could escalate tensions.”
North Korea is reportedly engaged in a large-scale live-fire artillery exercise, in what is apparently intended to signal to a hostile United States that Pyongyang is combat-ready.
Clashes with local villagers, who have been protesting against THAAD deployment for months, erupted when six trailers carrying the radar and other hardware equipment for the American missile defense system entered the installation site at the golf course in South Korea, Yonhap reports.
Scuffles erupted when police tried to stop some 200 residents at the entrance to the golf course. Police had to mobilize additional forces to control some 8,000 people in the area and the traffic on the provincial roads leading to the Seongju Golf Course.
The U.S. has been proposing the deployment of THAAD in the Korean Peninsula since 2014, but it was only in early February 2016 that official discussions started. This was largely a result of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test that was conducted in January 2016. After a series of consultations, the decision to deploy THAAD was made public by the Park Geun-hye administration on July 7th, 2016. The decision was seemingly made overnight and did not go through a ratification process which is required for treaties that would “significantly transform the security environment of South Korea.”
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“Sticking to (the one China) principle is not a capricious request by China upon U.S. presidents, but an obligation of U.S. presidents to maintain China-U.S. relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific,” said the Global Times editorial.
The influential tabloid is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily. Trump triggered protests from Beijing last month by accepting a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai and questioning Washington’s commitment to China’s position that Taiwan is part of one China. “If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining,” said the Global Times.
China and the United States can resolve any trade disputes through talks, the government said on Thursday, as a Chinese newspaper warned U.S. business could be targets for retaliation in any trade war ushered in by President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump has criticised China’s trade practices and threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, voiced sharp criticism of China’s trade practices, telling senators he would seek new ways of combating them.
Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said the government was willing to work with the new U.S. administration to promote the healthy development of commercial ties.