Beijing has called on North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities to avoid a “head-on collision” with the US and South Korea. In exchange, Washington and Seoul should halt drills, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
“To defuse the looming crisis on the (Korean) peninsula, China proposes that as a first step, the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea] may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the halt of the large-scale US-ROK [Republic of Korea, or South Korea] exercises,” the Chinese official said at a press conference.
“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains,” Wang added.
He noted that the “suspension for suspension” strategy could help break the deadlock between the states and help the negotiation process.
The official also warned South Korea about deploying the US-built THAAD missile defense system, adding that the move undermines China’s security.
Beijing’s proposal comes at a time of escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.
On Monday, Pyongyang fired four missiles across the sea toward Japan, and three of the rockets landed within Japan’s territorial waters. A fifth rocket apparently failed to launch, CNN reported.
Earlier in March, Seoul and Washington started annual joint war games, which Pyongyang views as a provocation. The US has also begun rolling out the THAAD system in South Korea, despite opposition from Russia and China.
On Tuesday, Ju Yong Choi, a North Korean diplomat, told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that the military war games were “a major cause of escalation of tension that might turn into actual war.”
Japan said back in November that they were considering deploying THAADs. If Tokyo chooses to do so, it will receive a three-stage interceptor system to secure its borders, able to intercept missiles inside or outside the Earth’s atmosphere.