Maximum pressure tactic unsuitable as North Korea, US heading for summit

Global Times
Li Jiayao

Lü Chao, director of the research center for North Korea and South Korea at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences

Attributing the North Korean shift to sanctions and pressure is a misjudgment. North Korea never surrendered although it has been facing deterrence policies for decades. UN sanctions and the world's criticism of its nuclear weapons somewhat promoted its change in policy, but they were not decisive.

The most important reason is North Korea's own decision. For example, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un decided to talk with South Korea and the US after taking the overall situation into account. North Korea pledged to suspend its nuclear testing and prioritize economic development.

There are hawks in the Trump administration who constantly warn President Trump not to make concessions to North Korea. Such suggestions may influence Trump's decisions, and may have caused the US to send its F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea as a further step to press North Korea.

However, such acts are irrational, and will set obstacles for the upcoming US-North Korea summit.

China and South Korea also contributed to the situation on the peninsula. The South Korean government worked hard to respond to North Korea's reconciliation gestures. China also said that it would never allow war or chaos on its doorstep, which can be seen as an important guarantee of peace on the peninsula. The US should stop further provoking North Korea.

North Korea said that the US was ruining the hard-won atmosphere of dialogue and bringing the situation back to "square one." The statement was reasonable. The US shouldn't mislead global opinion before the summit, this will deepen mutual mistrust between the two countries.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Pyongyang. During the visit, Pompeo needs to continue preparations for Trump's upcoming summit with Kim. The secretary's visit should help ease tensions between the two countries before the summit. In fact, both sides are looking forward to the summit. President Trump expects to seize the opportunity before his midterm election and North Korea wants to extricate itself from sanctions and isolation.

Wang Sheng, professor of international politics at the school of public administration, Jilin University

Donald Trump, as a businessman-turned president, always prefers to create an atmosphere of utmost tension before negotiations begin and force the other side to compromise so as to win more for the US side. If North Korea doesn't follow the denuclearization timetable of 2020 given by the US, South Korea and Japan, Washington will not cut down the pressure on North Korea.

North Korea has made overtures since the spring of 2018, which reflects its sincerity about denuclearization and seeking peace.

Some say North Korea's recent harsh criticism on Trump's maximum pressure policy was aimed to win more bargaining chips for itself at the summit. But in my opinion, Pyongyang may want to emphasize its own positive steps toward denuclearization. It shows North Korea's discontent with the US and its doubts about the US' sincerity for talks.

The US should respond to the sincerity North Korea has displayed. It should not only focus on its own interests, but also take into consideration North Korea's reasonable security and economic concerns as well as Chinese and Russian security concerns. Balancing different parties' interests is a prerequisite to solving the peninsula issue.


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