South Korean President Park Geun-hye traveled to Beijing this week to attend events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
She met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss North Korea – both the regime’s recent provocations and the nascent effort at inter-Korean reconciliation. Both leaders warned North Korea against committing further provocations.
The fact that a single landmine explosion could push the Koreas to exchange artillery fire and create a semi-state of war shows the precariousness of peace on the Peninsula.
Hopefully, Park can convince Xi of the need for China to more fully implement U.N. sanctions as well as pressure Pyongyang.
Both Koreas reached an agreement last week to step back from the precipice of imminent hostilities and resume bilateral meetings. However, the underlying causes for the confrontation remain and numerous previous attempts at reconciliation have failed.
It does not bode well that North Korea subsequently denied its expression of regret for the landmine incident, claiming instead that the South “learned a serious lesson [for its] unilateral fabrication of an incident.”
Planned future inter-Korean talks would be derailed if Pyongyang conducts a missile or nuclear test to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korea Workers Party on October 10th as some experts predict.
South Korea will need to carefully prepare its public message so as not to be perceived acceding to what many believe will be Beijing’s over-the-top Japan-bashing.
China seems to be trying to deflect international attention from its recent belligerent actions in the East and South China Seas and other troubles at home by claiming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s defense reforms reflect a resurgence of 1930s militarism.