Fu Ying: China’s position on DPRK-USA tensions

There is now an extraordinarily insightful paper by Fu Ying on the DPRK-USA tensions. She was the head of the Chinese delegation involved in bringing together the USA and the DPRK a decade or more ago and she is now chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress. Fu Ying is the most experienced Chinese foreign relations expert, with a deep understanding of North Korean concerns. Her recent detailed assessment can be found here.

She shows consistently how direct dialogue has eased tensions, how the DPRK has responded and continues to respond to US provocation and reneging on agreements, how vulnerable the DPRK feels and the failure to understand this vulnerability. In her careful diplomatic way, she makes it clear that just when agreements had been reached, the USA started ramping up sanctions and bellicose actions. Obviously, this was viewed as a betrayal of the agreements in the DPRK. In fact, sanctions came first and the DPRK’s response second. Again and again, the DPRK has been quite willing to shut down its nuclear weapons capacity, anticipating that the threats and sanctions would be removed. The USA had not reciprocated, since it is clearly unwilling to compromise. In fact, its agenda is for the DPRK and its communist system to be destroyed. The DPRK views this position as non-negotiable. Now we are in a situation where China (and indeed Russia) want an end to US build-up of weapons in the Korean Peninsula – especially THAAD – and an end to joint large-scale military exercises between the USA and South Korea. In exchange, the DPRK would denuclearise and achieve the peacetime stability it desperately craves.

Through the whole piece is the consistent position that China seeks peaceful resolution, since it shares a long border with the DPRK.

There are many good points in the long article, but I really love this section, in the midst of discussing the dialogues of 2003:

I remember during one visit to Washington, the U.S. side stated: “We agree to talk, but the military option is also on the table.” The Chinese side disagreed with this and argued that if the U.S. insisted on keeping the military option, North Korea would also keep the nuclear option. In a later meeting in Washington, the U.S. told us that the wording had been adjusted to “The military option is not off the table.” It was quite hard to see the difference between the two versions, especially for non-English speakers, but the American side insisted that these were the president’s words. I jokingly asked an American colleague: if the military option “is not off the table” and not necessarily on the table, then where could it be? And he said that one could only use one’s imagination. When I conveyed this sentence to my North Korean counterpart Ri Gun, he looked at me, eyes wide open, and asked, “Then where is it now?”



4 thoughts on “Fu Ying: China’s position on DPRK-USA tensions

  1. This is what I’ve been trying to tell folks for a long time. If you want to know about American diplomacy, ask the Native Americans (if you can find one). The US never kept a single treaty with them – not once. There is no diplomacy with the Americans, it’s just used as a stalling tactic or as a means of disarming a foe. They want the other side to make concessions and agree to do this or that while the US, despite what they may say, in the end will do nothing. We’ve seen it time and time again.

    Recently, I have been reading the articles and speeches of Yuri Andropov, former head of KGB and briefly leader of the USSR, where he repeatedly emphasized that during the many nuclear missile talks it was clear that the Americans would constantly equivocate and drag the talks on while their obvious objective was simply to get the Soviets to remove their missiles from Europe while the US and NATO would not reciprocate at all!

    Nothing has changed!

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