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THE United Nations Security Council on Aug. 5 unanimously adopted new sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) because of its intercontinental ballistic missile test launches in July.
U.N. sanctions ban the country’s exports of seafood and minerals such as coal, iron, iron ore, lead and lead ore. The sanctions this time are biting deep and will prevent the DPRK from earning more than US$1 billion per year of hard currency, which was one-third of its export total last year.
Despite the fact that the resolution was reached by all the Security Council members, China and Russia emphasized the importance of political means and peaceful talks to solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. “Sanctions are not the ultimate purpose but a means to bring all the parties concerned back to negotiation tables and resume talks,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The talks Wang referred to are the Six-Party Talks, during which the United States and the DPRK will have direct dialogue with the participation of the Republic of Korea, China, Russia and Japan. The Six-Party Talks were initiated in Beijing in August 2003, but have been shelved since December 2008. DPRK dropped out of the talks in April 2009.
Frankly speaking, the United States is itself the initiator of the dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula. As a product of the Cold War between the United States and former Soviet Union, the Korean Peninsula was split into two regions (North Korea and South Korea) with separate governments in 1948. In 1950, conflicts between the two regions escalated into warfare. The peninsula is now still technically in a state of war because the 1950-1953 Korean war ended only with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
As the creator of the war, the United States has never retrospected its wrongdoing, but always points fingers at others. While punishing the DPRK for missile launches and nuclear programs, the U.S. shows strong military muscles before the doors of other countries every day.
With the DPRK being a close neighbor of China, the new U.N. sanctions will surely have a bad influence on the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Although the consensus was reached at the cost of China, the Trump administration is even considering kicking off an investigation into Chinese trade practices under Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974. The act allows the head of state to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions to protect U.S. industries from practices of other countries. U.S. trading partners all over the world have become increasingly unhappy with such an obsolete unilateral approach, with the U.S. Government acting as police, prosecutor, judge and jury at the same time.
Facts have proved that sanctions will make the people of the DPRK more united and more hostile toward the U.S. After the U.N. resolution on Aug. 5, Pyongyang said that it is ready to give the U.S. a severe lesson if the U.S. takes military action against it. As for possible U.S. investigation into China, if Trump holds high the banner of protectionism and initiates a trade war with China, both countries will suffer. However, it is obvious that U.S. companies have much more to lose than their Chinese counterparts since China is a highly self-sufficient country.
Sometimes learning lessons from history will help politicians make the right decisions. According to a report, several months before the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, then American President John Kennedy read a book titled “Guns of August.” The book, written by famous American author Barbara Tuchman, told how Europe fell into World War I step by step.
Several months later, with the inspiration he got from the book, Kennedy successfully solved the Cuban Missile Crisis with peaceful means. Instead of resorting to war, he used an economic blockade as a tool to force Cuba and the former Soviet Union back to the negotiation table. Even at the most crucial point during the Cuban crisis, high-level communication channels and the door for dialogue between the United States and Cuba were still smooth and open.
People that fetch should carry. In my point of view, the current U.S. leader can learn from Kennedy. At present, no formal communication channel of any kind exists between the U.S. and the DPRK. It is a strong satire that the diplomacy of world’s strongest economy with the DPRK totally relies on basketball star Dennis Rodman’s private relationship with the Asian country and its top leader.
If Trump really wants to solve the Korean Peninsula issue in a peaceful way, there are many constructive things he can do. At least, he should invite the DPRK to open a trade representative office in New York or other major U.S. cities as soon as possible.
(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)