The South Korean foreign ministry has stated that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed that North Korea’s apparent increase in nuclear activity poses a threat to the entire region. China, North Korea’s only ally in the region, has previously aimed to remain neutral on matters concerning the peninsula.
The statement followed a meeting between Wang and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to discuss both the potential of North Korea’s restarting its nuclear program against sanctions from the United Nations and a visit by President Xi Jinping to South Korea later in the year.
“The two ministers agreed to step up cooperation based on the united position that they object to the North’s nuclear test and that recent nuclear activities by the North pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region,” the ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. Australian media report that Wang had said before the meeting with Yun that he found it expedient to resume talks with North Korea – specifically, six-party talks that would include the United States to work on ending the potential of another North Korean nuclear program.
Corresponding reports in Chinese media do not mention any agreement on ending North Korea’s nuclear program. Instead, they highlight the positive relations between China and South Korea in general terms. Xinhua quotes Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang stating that “cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) is in the best period since the two sides forged diplomatic relations.” Xinhua adds that Qin noted that “all sides are optimistic about Asia’s development prospects and hope for enhancing integration in the region,” without mentioning any other regional powers.
South Korea has recently confirmed increased military activity on its border with North Korea, including finding a drone made in North Korea near the border. Meanwhile, rhetoric from spokespeople of both nations and the national media is more incensed than ever. In a scathing statement, South Korean government spokesman Kim Min-seok asked this month, “Can North Korea even be regarded as a country? Is there human rights? Is there freedom?” Kim concluded that North Korea “is a country that cannot exist and should disappear soon.” North Korea had previously published a litany of personal insults in state newspaper Rodong Sinmun titled “We Accuse Park the Bitch” in which writers called the president of South Korea an “ugly old maid,” an “old cat groaning in her sickbed,” and a “pumpkin.”