Both China and Russia have made public proposals on how peace can be achieved on the Korean Peninsula. Both countries have a direct interest in making sure peace prevails as U.S. war exercises, and preparations to impose a naval blockade, not to mention the possible outbreak of a new Korean war, are all also aimed at them.
China made public a proposed “double suspension” formula on March 8, 2017. Referring to it as a “suspension-for-suspension” formula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this proposal would lead to the de-escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula. He said, “As a first step, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea military exercises.” “We may follow the dual-track approach of denuclearising the peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other,” he said.
Describing the approach as trying to address all parties’ concerns in a “synchronized and reciprocal” manner, Wang said, “This suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table.”
Then on July 4 Russia and China put forward a joint statement with a further proposal.
That plan consists of three stages. In the first stage, a “double freeze” is proposed: the DPRK would renounce carrying out new nuclear tests and missile launches, while the United States and its allies would renounce conducting large-scale exercises in the region.
The second stage would see the establishment of direct dialogue between the United States and the DPRK on the issues of peaceful coexistence and mutual recognition. In that same stage, the inter-Korean dialogue could be resumed.
The third stage would see the launch of multilateral negotiations on complex issues and mechanisms of peace and security in Northeast Asia. At this stage, issues of denuclearization and demilitarization of the Korean peninsula could be discussed.
The proposal was submitted by Russia to the U.S. and the DPRK in September 2017 and not rejected. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgoluv, speaking at a conference on November 27, said the DPRK had respected the code of silence on the proposal for two months, in fact following the roadmap. The Deputy Foreign Minister explained, however, that the decisions taken by the U.S. in October and November regarding unscheduled exercises made it very difficult to use the roadmap for a peace settlement.
Positions on Meeting of the “Vancouver Group”
On the occasion of the Vancouver Meeting Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing that the absence of China and Russia rendered the Vancouver Meeting without legitimacy and not representative.
“Since this meeting does not have legitimacy or representativeness, China has opposed the meeting from the very beginning,” he told reporters during a briefing in Beijing.
“While countries are committed to finding a proper solution for the peaceful settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, some parties hold such a meeting in the name of the so-called United Nations command during the Cold War era,” Lu Kang said. “We do not know what the purpose of convening such a meeting is,” he added.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement which said:
“Regrettably, we have to state that such events which are conducted hastily and which have a negative effect on functioning of proven multilateral formats, do not contribute to the normalization of the situation around the Korean Peninsula, but, on the contrary, aggravate it.”
“The ‘decision’ of the participants to consider introducing unilateral sanctions and other diplomatic measures seems completely unacceptable and counterproductive,” the statement added.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Russia would be prepared to support direct contacts between the United States and North Korea on the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear problem, including those within six-party talks by North Korea, China, South Korea, Russia, the United States and Japan.
“As you may know, Russia and China have a joint initiative for transition from confrontation to a political settlement of the problem that emerged on the Korean Peninsula. For a start we suggest everybody should calm down and freeze any confrontational actions — in the first place, military activities, be it missile launches, nuclear weapons tests or large-scale exercises, which the United States has held and still holds in the region jointly with the Republic of Korea and Japan,” Lavrov said.
“When such a freeze, a moratorium on unfriendly and confrontational steps takes effect, we will actively support direct contacts between the parties most concerned. As far as the nuclear problem is concerned, I am referring to Pyongyang and Washington in the first place, but we will be prepared to accompany their bilateral dialogue within the framework of the six-party process with Russia, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea taking part,” he said.
“As I’ve already mentioned, the United States has come very close to saying bluntly a military solution will be inevitable. Everybody understands the disastrous consequences of such an adventure. In a situation where conditions for starting a dialogue emerged, most often provocative actions, such as ever larger military exercises around North Korea followed only to trigger another spiral of tensions,” Lavrov said.
After the Vancouver Meeting issued its “Summary” of the discussions, China reiterated its objections to such a meeting. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang stated at his January 17 press briefing, “We all know that the so-called UN Command, as a product of the Cold War era, has long lost its relevance. As initiators of the meeting, the U.S. and Canada co-hosted the meeting under the banner of the so-called UN Command sending states. That is Cold War mentality pure and simple, and will only drive a wedge among the international community and undermine the concerted efforts to seek proper settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. When major parties to the Korean Peninsula issue are not present, such a meeting will not contribute to properly resolving the issue, as it shall be approached and addressed mainly through the framework of the Six-Party Talks and the UN Security Council. That is why, from the very beginning, the legality and representativeness of this meeting is extensively questioned by the international community.”
In a statement on January 17 the Russian Foreign Ministry stated “The results of the January 16 meeting in Vancouver outlined in the statement by its co-chairs — the United States and Canada — confirmed our doubts regarding the usefulness of this event…. We regret to state that such events held hastily and adversely affecting the work of tried and tested multilateral formats, do not contribute to the normalization of the situation around the Korean Peninsula, but, on the contrary, exacerbate it.”