China Helps Defuse Korean Crisis

Seoul recently made a reversal in its approach in relations with Pyongyang and called for a renewal of six-party talks about the situation on the Korean peninsula. A report in the Financial Times says China played a large role in helping ease recent tensions:

On the surface, the only sign of change was a statement, still carefully balanced, last week in which the Chinese foreign ministry urged Pyongyang to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency back into the country.

But observers said behind the scenes Beijing convinced Pyongyang that a war on the Korean peninsula would be undesirable and there was a real danger of such a conflict.

It is understood China argued that the North Korean attack had exhausted South Korea’s patience and tolerance and that Seoul was likely to provoke Pyongyang with military exercises and hardline rhetoric.

Chinese diplomats told their North Korean counterparts that, if they responded, they would fall into a trap set by South Korea and the US.

But while Seoul’s agreement to re-enter talks was viewed with relief in the Chinese foreign ministry’s department of Asian affairs, Beijing is under no illusion that it is nearing a solution to the conflict.