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Why is China Making Such a Pitch for the Resumption of Six-party Talks?
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Why is China Making Such a Pitch for the Resumption of Six-party Talks?
  • By Jack H. Park
  • October 8, 2013, 08:01
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China and North Korea are claiming that the six-party talks be resumed with no strings attached whereas South Korea and the United States are against it calling for Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

On September 18, Kim Kye-gwan, First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, participated in the discussion session in Beijing for celebrating the eighth anniversary of the September 19 Statement for Denuclearization and the 10th anniversary of the first six-party talks and requested an unconditioned dialogue. However, Washington clearly expressed its intention of refusal, demanding that Pyongyang’s denuclearization come ahead of anything else. Under the circumstances, China is throwing the ball again into the court of the US in the North’s place.

With such different stances of the US and China, things have been moving in the opposite direction since the summit talks in August between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping. At that time, the latter strongly criticized Pyongyang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also showed a hard-line stance during his phone call with his counterpart in Korea. It appeared that all of the six countries but North Korea built a cooperative framework with a single voice against the North.

However, high-ranking officials of Pyongyang and Beijing have frequently met with each other since the South Korea-China summit talks and now the Chinese President is urging President Barack Obama to resume the six-way talks. It has been recently also found that the Chinese and Russian chief delegates to the talks had a meeting in Beijing on September 19. In short, the North, which was driven into a corner after the third nuclear test, has held hands with China and Russia to attract the US and the South to the negotiating table.

In the meantime, North Korea unilaterally cancelled the reunion of separated families in just three days from the discussion session in Beijing and passed the buck to the South. Experts are saying that Pyongyang is pacing itself in the interKorean relations as the policy coordination among the five countries is showing signs of crumbling and China is siding with it.

China is focusing on the six-way talks again in close cooperation with North Korea. It is interpreted as a will to regain the diplomatic and security initiative in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia by using the North as a sort of leverage. Keen attention is paid to the Park Geun-hye administration’s countermeasures for the implementation of the trust-building process in the controversial regions.