China Should Remember Its Global Status

      May 24, 2010 13:48

      President Lee Myung-bak will meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Seoul on Friday. Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, having promised intensive talks with Chinese officials.

      Last week, South Korea unveiled the results of a multinational investigation presenting concrete evidence that a North Korean torpedo split the Navy corvette Cheonan in half and caused it to sink. Believing that North Korea violated UN regulations and the ceasefire agreement, the international community condemned the North and vowed to pursue sanctions. But China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council capable of vetoing sanctions, has yet to take any measures against Pyongyang. All that China has done so far is has a Foreign Ministry spokesperson urge "calm and restraint." 

      China's lukewarm response is due to the "blood ties" forged with its communist ally and the fact that it has significant economic interests, including mineral development rights in the North and exports from Rajin port through new routes in the East Sea. But China should also recall its role as one of the two most powerful countries in the world along with the U.S. Beijing must play its part in upholding world peace as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and as a signatory of the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953, it is also responsible for ensuring that the agreement is upheld and has the right to take punitive measures if it is broken.

      In the 1800s, the U.K. rose to the center of the global economy by abolishing its Corn Laws, which marked a significant step toward free trade, despite fierce resistance from its own farmers. It is time for China to act according to its own global status and uphold the principles of world peace, even if that means sacrificing a few of its interests in relations with North Korea. Now that North Korea has been proved to have disrupted international order at sea, China must show it is willing to place greater priority on the principles of world peace than its special relationship with the North. Trilateral talks with South Korea and the U.S. this week should be the first step in that direction.

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