Chinese wisdom may avert disaster in Korean Peninsula

Niraj Aryal

“We will take revenge on North Korea for the deaths of our fellow soldiers, so that the North will bitterly regret over what they’ve done,” said the commander of the South Korean Marine Corps delivering his speech at the joint funeral held Saturday.

As the North Korean Military fired coastal artillery and howitzer shells from its Gaemeori and Mudo base in Kangryong District, killing four people (2 Marines and 2 Civilians) and injuring 19 (16 Marines and 3 Civilians), protest erupted in the streets of Seoul urging the government to take stringent action against the North.

“How could North Korea carry out such an inhumane act on our proud fellow soldiers? We, the Korean Marine Corps, will not remain a mere onlooker to such ghastly attacks anymore,” stressed the commander of ROK Marine corps.

On November 23, the repressive Communist regime of North Korean ordered it's military to fire around 170 artillery shells into the waters and onto Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea. The RoK armed forces promptly returned fire after the initial firing by North Korea, leading to a clash between the two countries.

After the North misadventure on Yeonpyeong Island, about 1,300 have been forced to leave their ancestral homes. They have been living in miserable conditions at public bath houses, hospitals or in the homes of their close relatives.

In the past six decades, the Korean Peninsula is facing its worst crisis, civilians in the South fear that the event could trigger a full-fledged war with the North. Is war in the interest of the South Korean allies or even China, the only country with any influence over North Korea?

The RoK Government has so far described North Korea's provocation as a clear violation of the UN charter, the Armistice Treaty and the protocol on the Implementation and Observance of the South-North Basic Agreement of 1992 on non-aggression. The response of the ROK Government towards the assault by North and amid increasing public pressure has been on the other hand quite appropriate. It has shown great political maturity and restraint as it knows that its response similar to the reckless Northern regime could provoke a full scale war that could lead to a disaster in the entire peninsula.

However the democratic regime in the South needs to understand the motive behind the provocation of the North. First, the North Korean rulers face urgent need to establish Kim Jong-un, an inexperienced and unqualified "military dictator" who came to power since the third generation power succession. They need to intentionally create tensions with ROK to garner support and loyalty from the critical North Korean population. Secondly, the tactic used by the North is to create dispute in the Northern Limit Line (NLL) to inject security concerns among the South Koreans. It wants to prove that the South Korean government has become a failure in the management of its state affairs. Thirdly, they want to lure the US to the negotiating table by highlighting the need for urgent freeze of its nuclear program and discussion on a peace treaty. The display of its nuclear capability followed by the provocation through conventional means indicates that economically aggravated North with stern sanctions imposed by South after sinking of the Cheonan Ship, March 26, 2010, needed the step to create condition for urgent talks with South Korea and its allies.

While the ROK government expects the international community to actively join efforts to deter provocation of North on the Korean Peninsula, China has called for emergency talks between the heads of delegation to the six-party talks early December in Beijing. It is widely expected that China as a world economic and military power would act responsibly to tame the North Korea regime as escalated tensions in the peninsula is not even in the interest of China itself. It is time for China to readjust its North Korea policy that would be in the benefit of the economically marginalized North Korean population but not the military dictatorship there. Any act of wisdom exhibited by China in defusing the current war like situation in Korean peninsula would be greatly admired by the South Asian nations as well.

Finally, for the South Korean population it is high time that they unite and support the government initiatives.

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