Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Watching, Waiting

Since North Korea fired an artillery barrage at a South Korean island
near the border last week, China has had to go from a power throwing
its weight around to going on the defensive placating others. And it's
a desperate move at that too.

All countries in the region as well as the United States are looking
to China to rein in its naughty younger brother, but so far to no
avail.

In fact the Chinese state media even downplayed this dangerous
development, and now it's suffering the consequences of its
laissez-faire attitude.

Beijing's only effort so far is calling for a return to the six-party
talks, and is willing to host it. But the suggestion seems far from
enough.

When asked about the proposal, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs
said: "The United States and a host of others... are not interested in
stabilzing the region through a series of PR activity." Talks "without
an understanding and agreement from the North Koreans to both end
their behaviour as they exhibited last week, but also to come to the
table with a seriousness of purpose on the denuclearisation issue --
without that seriousness of purpose, they're just a PR activity."

Ouch.

It sounds like the US and the region don't think China is doing enough
of anything to get North Korea back in line and aren't willing to
entertain any kind of talks until something concrete happens.

Another serious issue dates back to March when North Korea torpedoed
the Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors and has yet to apologize
for the unprovoked attack. As a result South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak isn't interested in going back to the table at all until
some kind of acknowledgment or apology is given.

With others siding with the US, China is sheepishly trying to hold up
its corner, shielding North Korea. But what for? The country led by
Kim Jong-il has only stirred up a hornet's nest on its own whims
(actually his whims) while everyone else is tired of these groundless
provocations that threaten the stability of the region.

We're all waiting for China's next move. And it better be good.

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