China aims to revive the Six-Party Talks, which was established in 2003 with an objective to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula particularly North Korea. The countries involved in the multilateral forum included China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and the United States.
The Six-Party Talks stalled since 2008 due to a disagreement on verification systems on North Korea’s nuclear program. Pyongyang rejected the proposal of the United States to allow verification inspections at sites throughout the country, and it also denied its commitment in a verbal agreement allowing the collection of samples at Yongbyon nuclear facilities.
A China-backed think-tank will be hosting a forum with the officials from the six countries involved in the negotiations to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. The activity is part of the latest push by the Chinese government to resume the Six-Party talks, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry.
The China Institute of International Studies will host the forum this coming Friday and Saturday in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will speak during the gathering.
Previous efforts of China to resume the Six-Party Talks
In September 2013, China sent its chief nuclear envoy to North Korea and made a proposal to conduct an informal meeting with the participants of the Six-Party Talks.
In January 2014, China’s Ambassador to North Korea tweeted that Pyongyang agreed to resume the Six-Party Talks and called on the United States to fulfill its related obligations.
Earlier this year, the Chinese Foreign Ministery stated that the top nuclear envoys from China and Russia discussed the potential resumption of the Six-Party Talks. The Chinese government strongly aims to convince all parties return to the negotiating table without imposing preconditions on North Korea.
Japan and Russia were open in principle to China’s idea. On the other hand, the United States was reluctant on returning to the negotiations unless North Korea demonstrates a sincere commitment to abandon its nuclear program. Meanwhile, South Korea wants North Korea to show its sincerity in returning to negotiations by meeting certain preconditions.
China and North Korea relations
China is a long-standing ally and main trade partner of North Korea. However, the relations of both countries cooled since Kim Jong-un became the president of the country. The North Korean President did not attend China’s celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II because Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping refused to sit next to Mr. Kim on the reviewing stand.
According to KGS NightWatch, China rejected North Korea’s demand to give its Supreme Leader the highest honor as a guest and to be seated on the right-hand side of Pres. Xi Jinping during the celebration. The North Korean Supreme Leaders cancelled his attendance after being informed that he will be seated at the end of the reviewing stand.
China and North Korea’s ideology had been closely aligned, and both countries are bounded by a treaty wherein the Chinese government is obliged to support North Korea in the event of war with South Korea.
Political analysts suggested that China has increasingly viewing North Korea as a liability. However, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army maintained its position that China and Korea were as “close as lips to teeth.”
China is using its influence with North Korea to bring it back to the Six-Party Talks. The Chinese government is concerned about the possibility of the rush of North Korean refugees across its border. China has been providing energy and food assistance to Noth Korea.
In 2013, China finally eventually agreed to support the sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States against North Korea. Since then, the Chinese government increased its initiative for the resumption of the negotiations to denuclearize North Korea.
Nort Korea recently rejected the idea of an Iran-like nuclear deal
In July, North Korea said it was not interested in entering into an agreement similar to the Iran nuclear deal. Pyongyang also ruled out the possibility of negotiations over denuclearization.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of North Korea previously stated that his country is “not interested at all in the dialogue to discuss the issue of making it freeze or dismantle its nukes unilaterally.” He added that it’s “not logical to compare” North Korea with Iran citing the reason that they are always “subjected ti provocative U.S. military hostilities including massive joint military exercises and grave nuclear threat.”
Robert E. Kelly of the Diplomat believed that an Iran-like nuclear deal for North Korea is impossible because of several reasons. North Korea is more isolated than Iran and feels more secured having nuclear weapons. Additionally, North Korea considers its investments in nuclear weapons program as great, making it more difficult to give up its nuclear weapons.