Go to contents

Joint Statement Has No Bite

Posted May. 31, 2010 12:29,   


President Lee Myung-bak, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held a trilateral summit Saturday and Sunday on Jeju Island and issued a joint statement on the sinking of the South Korean naval patrol ship Cheonan. The statement said, “The leaders of China and Japan attached importance to the joint investigation conducted by South Korean and foreign experts and the responses of each country, and the leaders of three countries agreed on continuous cooperation and proper responses for regional peace and stability.” This is too weak to bear any meaning on the Cheonan sinking.

Regrettably, the statement made no mention of North Korea though a scientific and objective investigation proved that the North sank the Cheonan and the world recognizes the probe results. The three countries have a vested interest in preserving peace in Northeast Asia, but by issuing such a statement, they have turned a blind eye to the communist country’s provocation that broke regional peace and killed 46 South Korean servicemen. Under this situation, joint countermeasures are out of the question. China is most to blame for the meaningless statement.

Wen told reporters, “The most urgent thing is to eliminate the adverse effects of the Cheonan incident, gradually alleviate tension, and avoid conflict.” It is understandable for China not to want a crisis on the Korean Peninsula in which the U.S. and Japan agree to South Korea’s imposition of sanctions on the North and for Pyongyang to fight such measures. Nonetheless, Beijing should have focused on the causing of the sinking instead of expressing fears over the potential consequences of the incident. China is also oblivious to South Korea’s cautious approach in punishing the North militarily. The most urgent task now is to mete out appropriate punishment to the culprit who caused tension and the risk of conflict.

Wen said, “We should make all-out efforts to improve peace and stability, and without this, we cannot talk about development.” Is he really unaware of who is undermining peace and stability in Northeast Asia? China should show its commitment to regional peace and stability not with rhetoric but with action. Instead of using a roundabout way to mention who threatens peace, it must name the culprit and urge North Korea to apologize, hold those responsible accountable, and promise not to do it again. Wen said China is a responsible nation, but the country has failed to fulfill its responsibility as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and the world’s second-largest economy. In contrast, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama paid respects to the 46 Cheonan crewmen and urged the North to assume responsibility.