The phone conversation between President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on Wednesday amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula was a timely and necessary one for the international community.
The situation had further deteriorated after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea proclaimed on Sunday a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. The DPRK has conducted several missile tests in the past months in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The DPRK and the US also have engaged in a war of words.
The US and the Republic of Korea on Aug 31 concluded their annual military drill, known as the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which involved 50,000 ROK soldiers and 17,500 US soldiers.
Xi reiterated China's long-standing and unswerving resolve to achieving the denuclearization of the peninsula; maintaining its peace and stability; and solving the issue through dialogue and negotiations. Both leaders expressed their commitment to strengthening coordination on the issue.
While China and the US agreed on the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula, their approaches are not the same.
There should be no doubt that China is keen on the denuclearization, given that China abuts the Korean Peninsula. China has repeatedly stressed the importance of talks and negotiations, a view shared by many other leaders and experts.
It is true that past talks have not been smooth and even failed. But the avenue of talks is far from exhausted. It is hard to believe that a solution could be found if relevant parties, in particular the US and the DPRK, are not engaged in direct and sufficient talks to understand and address each other's key concerns.
The continuing nuclear and missile tests by the DPRK are a grave concern for the region and the world, but the US should seriously address the DPRK's legitimate security concerns, such as signing a peace treaty to end the 1953 armistice and assuring the DPRK that the US will not pursue regime change in the DPRK as it did in Libya and Iraq.
The DPRK has long regarded the joint military drill by the US and ROK as a provocative act. This means that the US should heed China's proposal of dual suspension as a means to ease the tension – the DPRK halts its nuclear and missile tests, and the US and ROK halt their large military drills.
When Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Monday that the DPRK "is begging for war", many experts would not agree with such an assessment. The DPRK wants a security assurance.
It was both narrow-minded and undiplomatic when Haley described the "freeze-for-freeze" proposal as "insulting". Why not give it a try if it could help ease tension and lead to denuclearization?
The US has been calling for stronger sanctions on the DPRK after sanctions have repeatedly proved a failure.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday, Haley herself questioned the effectiveness of sanctions. "Do we think more sanctions are going to work on North Korea?" she asked. "Not necessarily. But what does it do? It cuts off the revenue that allows them to build ballistic missiles."
What Haley could not dare admit is that the sanctions she hopes for could lead to an enormous humanitarian disaster in the DPRK, hurting millions of women and children and innocent people. Besides, she has provided no convincing argument that sanctions will lead to a solution rather than further raising tensions.
It's quite disturbing when Haley said that, "We should always let every country know, whether it's North Korea or Iran or anyone else, that we will always look out for our interests, our security and make sure that it's working for us, not making sure that it works for everyone else. That's very important."
If the US cares only about its own interests and ignores others', then it will be hard to seek others' support.
The author is deputy editor of China Daily USA. email@example.com