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Eye-for-an-eye actions can prompt China to change its strategy

Eye-for-an-eye actions can prompt China to change its strategy

Posted August. 01, 2017 09:23,   

Updated August. 01, 2017 11:23


The international community has been eyeing on China since North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter, “They (China) do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.” Instead of demanding a UN Security Council emergency session, he claimed that China should bear responsibility for North Korea’s provocation.

The U.S. blamed China, rather than the United Nations, because China takes advantage of the loopholes of the U.N. sanctions against North Korea. Had Beijing cut off oil supply to the North for just a few days after the first launch of ICBM on July 4, Pyongyang would not have been able to attempt the second launch. Moreover, it is extremely irresponsible for Beijing, which is not free from the responsibility for leaving the North to develop its nuclear program, as the chair of the six party talks, to urge for a “dual freeze” - freezing North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for the suspension of the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises – while tolerating North Korea’s repeated provocations.

Nonetheless, Beijing lashed out at the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula, which is a defensive action against North Korea’s provocations, and demanded its removal. Its state-run media insisted that we should calm down North Korea, instead of making it angry, when the U.S. tested the missile intercept system. To change China’s strategy, there is no option other than showing our actions to say that Asia’s peace and stability and even China’s security can be threatened without cutting ties with the North. Seoul is also responsible for Beijing’s unreasonable demand over the deployment of THAAD as it has been indecisive without principles. It should make it clear that security cannot be a diplomatic bargaining chip.


Seoul needs an active discussion over how to increase deterrence against the North in terms of the alliance with the United States. North Korea’s repeated provocations have confirmed that warnings against the North including a preemptive strike are of no use. Despite the show of force with a joint military exercise and the B-1B bombers, it is doubtful whether the North would budge at all. The "balance of fear" is needed with a "nuclear-for-nuclear" action. As the North is getting closer to a nuclear state, the South needs to set up an "action-for-action" principle against the North’s nuclear weapons. It should be equipped with deterrence to counter the North’s nuclear threats by securing the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) by removing the limit of the weight of a warhead, redeploying tactical nuclear weapons and securing nuclear latency.

Furthermore, Seoul needs a major shift in its North Korea policy – sanctions and dialogues in parallel. It should not completely block the communication channel, but it should not make North Korea misjudge the situation due to our appeasement approach such as proposing inter-Korean talks. South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon said on Monday, “North Korea’s ICBM launch has reached a critical point of the red line. The security situation on the Korean Peninsula is fundamentally changing,” implying that the government is seriously considering a policy shift. In spite of some losses, it needs a strong determination, which can leave China with no choice but to change its stance.