China and South Korea issued a joint call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at a summit in Seoul yesterday that was seen as a pointed snub of nuclear-armed North Korea by chief ally Beijing.
In a joint statement after their talks, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and South Korean President Park Geun-hye reaffirmed their “firm opposition” to the development of nuclear weapons on the peninsula, but seemed divided on how best to persuade the North to give up its bombs.
While Park told reporters that the two sides had agreed to use “all means” possible to bring denuclearization about, Xi said that “dialogue and negotiation” were the best way forward.
“There was certainly a difference in perspectives, but that has always been there,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies. “South Korea might have liked Xi to say something more direct toward the North, but that was wishful thinking.”
If the joint statement marked no departure from established Chinese and South Korean policy toward North Korea, the fact that it was released at a summit in Seoul carried significant symbolic weight.
It was Xi’s first trip as head of state to the perennially volatile Korean Peninsula and his second summit with Park, who visited China last year.
With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un still waiting for an invitation to Beijing, Xi’s decision to visit Seoul before Pyongyang was seen as a calculated rebuff that spoke to the strained relationship between Pyongyang and its historic and most important ally.
“No previous Chinese leader has put South Korea before and above the North like this,” said Aidan Foster-Carter, a Korea expert at Britain’s Leeds University.
In what some saw as a display of pique at Xi’s visit, North Korea had conducted a series of rocket and missile launches over the past week, and pledged further tests in the future.
Seoul had been hoping that yesterday’s joint statement would include a strongly worded warning to Pyongyang, but analysts had forecast that Beijing was unlikely to up the rhetorical ante by any significant degree.
It made no mention of North Korea’s nuclear tests, although in her comments afterwards, Park said both sides had reaffirmed their “resolute opposition” to any further testing.
The statement did stress the importance of finding a way to get the long-stalled six-party talks on North Korea up and running again.
Beijing has pushed for a resumption of the six-party process — involving the two Koreas, China, the US, Japan and Russia, but Seoul and Washington insist that Pyongyang must first make a tangible commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
As the North’s diplomatic protector and chief economic benefactor, China has repeatedly been pressured by the international community to use its leverage to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, but while Beijing has become increasingly frustrated with the North’s missile and nuclear tests, it remains wary of penalizing the isolated state too heavily.
It is especially anxious to avoid any regime collapse that would result in a unified Korea with a US troop presence on its border.
Washington has played up Xi’s two-day visit as evidence of Pyongyang’s deepening diplomatic isolation.
“The symbolism of a visit by a Chinese leader to Seoul against the backdrop of tensions between North Korea and its neighbors ... is pretty striking,” US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said.
The wider background to Xi’s trip includes China’s response to the US “pivot to Asia” and the battle between the two major powers for regional influence.
China is currently South Korea’s largest export market and two-way trade stood at about US$275 billion last year, but analysts say Beijing wants to move beyond economic ties, and promote political and security links. That leaves Seoul with a difficult balancing act, given its historic military alliance with the US.
There are about 29,000 US troops stationed in South Korea.
A Taiwanese YouTuber suspected of creating and selling deepfake porn videos featuring more than 100 politicians and influencers was on Monday released on bail after being arrested the previous day. Chu Yu-chen (朱玉宸), 26, who uses the name Xiaoyu (小玉) on YouTube, was arrested on Sunday in New Taipei City, along with two suspected accomplices, a 24-year-old YouTuber surnamed Yeh (耶), known as Shaiw Shaiw (笑笑), and a 22-year-old man Chuang (莊). The three suspects were on Monday escorted to the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further questioning on suspicion of distributing obscene videos and publicly insulting others, in contravention of
FAMILY: While the CECC agrees ‘in principle’ to allowing entry to foreign spouses and children of foreigners in Taiwan with a residence permit, the issue is still being reviewed A nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended for two weeks until Nov. 1, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, adding that agencies are still discussing whether to allow foreign spouses and children of foreigners in Taiwan with a residence permit to enter the nation. “In principle we agree to relaxing the entry regulations for the group, but relevant agencies are still reviewing and discussing the matter,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The center on Sept. 13 eased border restrictions for foreign dependents of Taiwanese nationals. They can apply
ANTI-COERCION: EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU wishes to bolster relations with Taiwan within the framework of its ‘one China’ policy The EU is to further its engagement with Taiwan to defend democracy, freedom and an open market, while bolstering cooperation in semiconductor supply chains, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday. In her remarks at a European Parliament plenary session focused on Taiwan-EU relations, Vestager referred to China’s increasing military presence in the Taiwan Strait, including flying missions off the southwest coast of Taiwan. “This display of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” she said, adding that the EU encourages all parties to avoid any unilateral actions that might increase tensions across the Strait. “We Europeans
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) yesterday said he would leave the party and would not seek re-election, as he confirmed a report that he worked as an informant for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authoritarian regime when he was a student. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported on Saturday that Huang, 57, worked as an informant for the KMT when he was in college. Huang yesterday on Facebook said he accepts political responsibility for working with the authoritarian government to spy on his fellow students when he was in university and apologized to those affected