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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Korean Nuclear Issue

2023-04-17 19:34

Mr. President, 

I thank Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari for his briefing right now.

Tension persists on the Korean peninsula with confrontations escalating, which China finds deeply concerning. I heard some fellow members who spoke before me condemning other countries in harsh terms, as if the peninsula situation, coming to today's point, had everything to do with others and nothing to do with themselves. As an old Chinese saying goes, if you sow the seeds of melon, you get melon, not beans. It is not enough to merely look at how a matter is presenting itself at this moment. It is more important to see how it got to this point and recognize its underlying main drivers. 

The Peninsula issue is the legacy of the Cold War that has cast a decades-long shadow. It is in essence a security issue. Since the armistice on the Korean peninsula, a peace mechanism has yet to materialize, and the DPRK has been faced with tremendous security threats and survival stresses. For decades, its legitimate concerns have been denied the attention and response they deserve. Recently, the United States has been conducting frequent military exercises in the periphery of the peninsula, deploying strategic weapons such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and B52 bombers, which has greatly heightened the DPRK’s sense of insecurity. This is the main trigger for the current tensions on the peninsula. 

Mr. President,

Facing the new round of tensions spiraling on the Korean peninsula, China calls on all parties concerned to remain calm, exercise restraint, addressed the root causes, stay the course towards a political solution, which is our overarching goal, and work together to achieve denuclearization and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula. In this regard, I wish to underscore three points. 

First, a show of goodwill and good faith to each other is imperative. The Peninsula issue had reached an inflection point several times in the past. In 1994, the DPRK and the United States signed an agreed framework on the nuclear issue. In 2005, the Six-Party Talks issued the September 19 joint statement. In 2018 and 2019, the DPRK took unprecedented denuclearization steps, and the DPRK and US leaders met and reached important consensus on improving bilateral relations, establishing a peace mechanism on the peninsula, and denuclearizing the peninsula. However, because of the flip-flop in the US policy, its failure to respond on the principle of action for action, and its reversion to the old practice of sanctions and pressurization, the opportunities to solve the Korean peninsula issue were missed time and again, the DPRK became even more distrustful of the US, and dialogue landed in a complete deadlock.. The parties should deeply reflect on the lessons from the past, and come to realize that a show of goodwill is vital to building mutual trust and creating the conditions necessary for peace talks. The United States, in particular, should look squarely at the crux of the matter, adopt a responsible attitude, and take meaningful, practical, and tangible actions.

Second, we need to return to the right path of relaunching dialogue. The security of all countries is indivisible, and the world needs common security. No country should pursue absolute security at the expense of the security of other countries. This has important implications for resolving the Peninsula issue. All parties concerned should put themselves in each other’s shoes, acknowledge each other's legitimate concerns, reduce provocations, confrontations, and pressurization, and create enabling conditions whereby meaningful dialogue can resume. China is a long-standing advocate of the dual-track approach and the principle of moving forward in phases with synchronized steps. We stress that denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and establishing a peace mechanism on the peninsula are both indispensable. These proposals played an important role in turning around the situation on the peninsula in the past, and will continue to guide any effort to settle the issue once and for all. All parties concerned should continue to work in this direction. 

Third, we need to gauge and modulate the right approach, so the Security Council can properly place a role. Any action taken by this Council should be geared first and foremost towards easing the situation on the peninsula, and promoting long-term stability and security. The Council should not discard its even-handed approach, much less become an instrument for imposing sanctions and pressure to the exclusion of other options or in the service of some countries’ geopolitical strategies. As to how the Council should pronounce itself, the crux here is to look at what it can achieve. If the purpose of an outcome document is merely to launch a one-sided condemnation of one party. it will only intensify the antagonism and even lead to an end result that none of the parties wish to see. I also like to emphasize that the Security Council resolutions cover not just sanctions, but also texts on resuming dialogue and resolving the issue politically. This should not be selectively ignored. The draft resolution on the DPRK proposed by China and Russia to the Council cam inject impetus into the political settlement of the Korean peninsula issue. In the face of the current complex situation, all parties should give more positive consideration to our proposed resolution. 

Mr. President,

In the earlier statement by the US Representative, a reference was made on the so-called “UN Command”. As is known to all, the “UN Command”, as the product of the Cold War, has long been out of date. China never acknowledged the “UN Command”. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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