There is no reason to doubt the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) sincerity in wanting to put an end to the long-standing hostility that has made it feel continually threatened.
That enmity really should have been consigned to history a long time ago. However, past detentes were aborted due to perceptions on both sides that commitments were not being honoured.
That should serve as a lesson that dedicated efforts are needed to remove mutual suspicions. And that for the current positive momentum to have the necessary firm foundations on which to build lasting peace, greater trust is crucial.
By meeting the need for an honest broker to help instill confidence that each side is acting in good faith, China has been playing and continues to play an indispensable role in the Korean Peninsula peace process.
Certainly the DPRK is not going to denuclearise unless it is convinced it has cast-iron and workable security guarantees.
Nor are the United States and the Republic of Korea going to give such guarantees unless they are convinced that denuclearisation is indeed taking place. Which will be a chicken and egg standoff, unless each side is satisfied the other will honour its step-by-step commitments.
China has been working hard to ensure the momentum that has been realised is consolidated. And that both sides sincerely cherish the possibility of putting their animosity behind them.
In the latest move, President Xi Jinping met with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un in the northeastern Chinese coastal city of Dalian on Tuesday. The DPRK’s state news agency KCNA said the meeting added important momentum to bilateral ties at a crucial time.
The two leaders’ meeting was unexpected as it came just 40 days after Kim had met with Xi in Beijing.
But it comes ahead of Kim’s planned meeting with US President Donald Trump, which is expected to take place sometime this month, or next.
The friendly get-together enabled Kim to assure Xi that his country remains committed to denuclearisation and has no need to possess nuclear weapons if there is an end to the hostile policies and security threats against it.
It is a message that President Xi will no doubt pass on to President Trump, who later tweeted that he hopes he “will speak to my friend President Xi” by telephone, to discuss the DPRK situation and trade.
With Xi reaffirming to Kim that China will support the DPRK in its economic construction efforts now that it is switching its focus to development, the meeting marks another significant step forward for the Korean Peninsula peace process.