The ‘South Korea-China Future Vision Joint Statement’ adopted by President Xi Jinping and President Park Geun Hye in Beijing yesterday incorporates the idea that the development of nuclear weapons represents a serious threat to Northeast Asian peace and security, and that there should be bilateral effort to realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. However, the precise phrase “North Korean nuclear” is absent from the text. According to experts, this mostly reflects China’s desire not to antagonize North Korea.
Nevertheless, experts assess that the results of the summit still place considerable pressure on North Korea. The two sides emphasized implementation of the September 19th Joint Statement, which itself emphasizes North Korea’s abandonment of nuclear weapons. They also urged dialogue with the international community. This too represents a de facto demand for denuclearization, given that Washington is not prepared to talk to North Korea unless it undertakes practical steps in that direction.
◆ Sin Jong Ho, Gyeonggi Research Institute
Only mentioning Korean Peninsula denuclearization in the South Korea-China summit was probably China’s way of understanding and pacifying North Korea… this was not China ignoring South Korea, though. It basically means the discarding of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, so it will be a significant source of pressure for them.
◆ Choi Chun Heum, Korea Institute for National Unification
Internationally, if you say “Korean Peninsula denuclearization” then that points directly to North Korean nuclear weapons. This should be seen as precisely expressing a joint willingness not to accept North Korean nuclear weapons. Of course the phrasing was chosen with Chinese domestic conservatives in mind, including Hu Jintao, and so it was rather indirect, but it clearly transmitted Xi Jinping’s intent to North Korea. It put high-level pressure on them.
◆ Professor Kim Yeon Soo, Sogang University
There appears to be a temperature difference [between South Korea and China]. There is a consensus with China on the North Korean nuclear problem, but there are differences of opinion on how this should be achieved… China’s actual actions must be watched carefully.