|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN General Assembly Debate on the Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue|
The situation of the Korean Peninsula is an important issue and a long-standing concern for the Security Council. The Peninsula issue has been protracted for decades, involving complex dynamics. In the past few years, thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the situation on the Peninsula has been easing on the whole. In 2018, the DPRK committed to suspending nuclear tests and ICBM test launches, and took a number of substantive measures, including the detonation of its nuclear test site. The meeting between DPRK and US leaders produced important consensus on improving DPRK-US relations, establishing a peace mechanism on the Peninsula, and denuclearizing the Peninsula. This has led to a significant and positive turnaround in the Peninsula situation, and represents an important step in the denuclearization process. However, the US side did not respond according to the action-for-action principle, and instead returned to the old path of strategic patience and maximum pressure, chanting empty slogans for dialogue and increasing sanctions against the DPRK, which intensified the DPRK’s distrust of the US, and brought the talks to a complete deadlock.
The current situation on the Peninsula has become tense, which is something China does not want to see. It must be pointed out that the Peninsula situation has developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip flop of US policies, its failure to uphold the results of previous dialogue, and its disregard for the reasonable concerns of the DPRK. This is an undeniable fact. Where the situation goes from here will depend, to a large extent, on the actions of the US, and the key lies in whether the US can face up to the crux of the problem, demonstrate a responsible attitude, and take meaningful and concrete actions. Under the current circumstances, all parties should remain calm, exercise restraint, and avoid any action that could escalate tensions and lead to miscalculation.
To fundamentally resolve the Peninsula issue requires following the general direction of political settlement, dialogue, and consultation. Historical experience shows that dialogue and consultation are the only viable way to resolve the Peninsula issue. If dialogue advances smoothly, positive progress will be made on the Peninsula. If dialogue is stalled or even backtracks, tensions on the Peninsula will escalate. Since the DPRK took denuclearization measures in 2018, the US side has not reciprocated the DPRK’s positive initiatives, and has not addressed the DPRK’s legitimate and reasonable concerns. Nor has it demonstrated the necessary sincerity for resolving the issue. There are many things that the US can do, such as easing sanctions on the DPRK in certain areas, and ending joint military exercises. The key is to take actions, not just talk about its readiness for dialogue with no preconditions.
To fundamentally resolve the Peninsula issue requires abandoning the old approach of imposing sanctions and exerting pressure. Sanctions are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The Security Council’s harsh sanctions against the DPRK are unprecedented and target far more than nuclear missiles, which have had a huge negative impact on the livelihood of the DPRK people. In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak in the DPRK, additional sanctions will be neither right nor humane, and will only add to the suffering of the DPRK population. The Security Council’s DPRK-related resolutions are an integral whole, and should be implemented in a comprehensive, complete, and accurate manner. Relevant countries should not place one-sided emphasis on the implementation of sanctions, but should also make active efforts to promote a political solution and ease sanctions in due course. The draft resolution on the DPRK jointly proposed by China and Russia in the Security Council aims at alleviating the humanitarian and livelihood difficulties of the DPRK, and injecting momentum into the political settlement on the Peninsula. We hope that all parties will positively consider and support this draft.
To fundamentally resolve the Peninsula issue requires the Security Council to play a constructive role. Under the current situation, the words and actions of the Security Council and its members should help maintain stability and prevent chaos on the Peninsula, restart dialogue and negotiations, and resolve the real humanitarian and livelihood difficulties faced by the DPRK, rather than creating obstacles to this end. In the past, the Security Council has been able to adopt DPRK-related resolutions by consensus, mainly because all parties fully communicated with one another and ultimately reached consensus. In response to the draft resolution on the DPRK tabled by the United States, China has put forward many reasonable proposals. We hoped that the US side would consider replacing the potential resolution with a presidential statement in a way that can best garner the consensus of Council members. This approach was recognized and endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Council members, but the US was the only opponent that insisted on pushing for a vote, deliberately creating confrontations and a showdown in the Council. Looking at the consensus-lacking US draft resolution, China had no choice but to vote against it. And the US should take responsibility for this.
To fundamentally resolve the Peninsula issue requires safeguarding the security interests of regional countries. The security of all countries is indivisible, and the peace and stability of the Peninsula is closely related to the external strategic environment. The US has recently been provoking problems in the Asia Pacific region, and has been carrying out nuclear submarine cooperation with relevant countries in the region, developing hypersonic weapons, and selling cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to other countries. These moves have completely revealed its double standards and hypocrisy on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. The US has been vigorously implementing its Indo-Pacific strategy, and strengthening military alliances with relevant regional countries, which aggravates the risks of a military confrontation in the region. A certain politician of an individual regional country is clamoring for so-called nuclear sharing with the US, intentionally reversing the wheels of history on the issue of nuclear weapons, seriously impacting the process of resolving the Peninsula nuclear issue, and poisoning the regional security environment. It is not in the interest of any country to stoke confrontation between different camps in the Asia Pacific region. We urge the countries concerned to put regional peace and security first, stop political maneuvering, change course immediately, and create a good environment towards peace and stability on the Peninsula.
China always engages in the work of the Security Council in a responsible manner, and makes active efforts to maintain unity among Council members and promote stronger cooperation among all parties, with a view to fulfilling the duties mandated by the UN Charter. It must be noted that China takes an extremely cautious and responsible approach to every vote in the Security Council, and bases its judgment on the merits of the matter itself. What kind of vote China will cast is essentially about whether such a voting will be conducive to solving the problem, maintaining international peace and security, and avoiding greater tensions and disasters. It will be precisely irresponsible and derelict of duty for the Security Council to adopt a resolution without principle, which could result in serious consequences and plunge the countries or regions concerned into a catastrophe.
A peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula is the shared expectation of regional countries and the international community. As a close neighbor of the Peninsula, China has been closely following developments on the Peninsula, and has always insisted on maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula, achieving a denuclearized Peninsula, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultations. For a long time now, China has been making unremitting efforts to resolve the Peninsula issue. We have been playing an important and constructive role, which is clearly seen by the entire international community. Under the current circumstances, we hope that all parties will continue to focus on the big picture, pursue dialogue and consultations, meet each other halfway, explore effective ways to resolve the reasonable concerns of all parties in a balanced manner, and create favorable conditions for the early resumption of meaningful dialogue. Together with the wide membership, China is ready to play a constructive role towards this end.
I thank you, Mr. President.