China, Japan Applaud ‘Positive’ Koreas Summit

In September last year, Xi Jinping (R) and Shinzo Abe (L) agreed that they would restart talks to jointly develop resources in the East China Sea
AFP/KIM KYUNG-HOON

The governments of Japan and China, typically on the opposite sides of most regional political issues, both praised Friday’s summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong-un.

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and closest ally. Japan, a U.S. ally, is one of North Korea’s most reliable targets of vitriol, abductions of civilians, and the occasional missile test, making Tokyo one of the loudest voices calling for denuclearization of the Kim regime.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued an optimistic statement about the in-person meeting between the leaders of both Koreas. “I welcome (the outcome) as the earnest discussion on denuclearization and other issues was a move toward the comprehensive resolution of various challenges surrounding North Korea,” he told reporters, according to Japan’s Kyodo News Agency. He reportedly added that Japan would continue to cooperate with the United States and South Korea as the situation develops, since Kim is expected to meet with President Donald Trump following his meeting Friday with Moon.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga elaborated on the Japanese government’s position in a press briefing.

“I want to praise the South Korean government for its efforts that led to today’s talks. I think there will be serious discussion between the two leaders in the summit meeting,” Suga told reporters, according to Yonhap. Suga spoke before the summit had begun, and noted that Japan expected it to generate a “positive” result.

The communist government of China applauded the Koreas and urged the United States to prepare to offer concessions to North Korea to keep the momentum going. The former occurred in statements during the Foreign Ministry’s regular press briefing.

“We applaud the historic step taken by the two leaders, commend their political resolve and courage in doing this, and sincerely hope that their meeting will achieve positive outcomes,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, adding that the two leaders meeting was a “historic moment.”

“Brotherhood will survive all vicissitudes, and a smile is all we need to dissolve old grudges,” she continued. “We hope that the historic summit at Panmunjom will be taken as an opportunity for all to embark on a new journey towards lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.”

President Trump had similarly effusive words about the summit on Twitter, urging Americans to feel “very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”

He also issued a deferential nod to China’s Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, calling him a “good friend.” Trump has urged China for months to cooperate with the West in abiding by international sanctions on Pyongyang to pressure the regime into discussing the abandonment of nuclear weapons. China has mostly abided by those sanctions, though the United States saw necessary to sanction some Chinese banks and individuals for continuing to trade with North Korea in June.

The Chinese state-run outlet Global Times, which on Thursday demanded that the United States pay for an end to North Korean belligerence with “attractive rewards,” took note of the fact that Trump has stated that he may “walk out” of an in-person meeting with Kim Jong-un if he believes that the North Korean leader is acting in bad faith. The Times argues that any progress made at the Kim-Moon summit is conditional upon Trump supporting it, as the United States must sign off on any official end to the half-century-long Korean War (so must China).

Any diplomatic measures taken at the inter-Korean summit, the Chinese newspaper argued, “remain fragile, because another heavyweight player, US President Donald Trump, has yet to appear on stage.” The Global Times went on to call the joint statement made by both Korean leaders “only a prospect with no specific plan.”

The Panmunjom Declaration, signed by both Kim and Moon, announced “there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” but did not provide any more details on how the countries would bring about this reality.

 

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