The Sun News

North Korea crisis: Why China insists on regional peace, by experts

• As Nigeria-China forum celebrates 19th CPC

By Emma Emeozor emma_globecomm2yahoo.com

It is no magic that China is achieving great feats. Its steady socio-economic growth and development, even at in a period when many nations are facing tough times, is the fruit of strong political institutions, and visionary and astute leadership.

The country has risen from a third world country status to that of a world power, competing with the United States and European nations in various spheres, including science and technology. In China, development plans are adhered to and implemented with vigour. Today, it is giving succour to many third world countries, including those abandoned by their Western colonial masters.

The candour of the leaders has won them the confidence of the Chinese people. They are confident that the country’s train of progress is unstoppable and the sky is the limit. This thinking may have inspired President Xi Jinping when he reportedly said in his speech at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing from October 18 to 24, 2017, that he has set out his vision not just for the five years ahead but for 30 years.

China’s development plan is usually for five years. Looking beyond the five years immediately puts the leadership of the country on its toes, bearing in mind that there are unforeseen challenges that could manifest in the future. Xi did not pretend over the power and influence of his country in global affairs. A proud Xi also hinted at “a Socialist model, which provides a new option for other countries and nations.”

Analysts say China is set more than ever before to “export governance and cyber weapons.” They argue that Xi wants to complete his movement for “a push for modernisation and increasing assertiveness on the world stage.” Chairman Mao Zedong started the revolution but now Xi is taking it to another level with reformist zeal. Whatever be the school of thought, Chinese are proud of Xi’s achievements so far. This they aptly demonstrated during the congress. The fanfare that characterised the event was a show of encouragement and a vote of confidence for the President. Expectedly, he has secured another five-year mandate to preside over the affairs of the country. 

Chinese citizens, both at home and in the Diaspora, use the occasion of the congress to commend a leader that has made them proud. In Nigeria, they were upbeat as they expressed their solidarity with the government. The event was marked with a symposium organised by the Nigeria-China Friendship Association (NICAF) and held at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos. The event, which brought together Chinese and Nigerians, had an interactive session on the theme “The CPC and Regional Peace and Security: A Case Study of the North Korean Nuclear Tests.”

The 19th CPC came up at a time when Washington was banking on Beijing to dissuade North Korea from developing its nuclear capability. Besides its leadership position in the region, China is North Korea’s trusted ally. The United States believes China is a voice Pyongyang would heed. NICAF chose to address North Korea’s nuclear crisis to enlighten Nigerians on the crucial role China plays in global matters.

The lead presenter of the topic, president and director-general, Bolytag Centre for International Diplomacy and Strategic Studies, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, told the audience that the crisis borders on global peace and security. Which was a challenge to China, he said. According to the professor of international relations, long before the crisis, China had mulled over how to promote peace and harmony, not only in the region but globally.

He recalled that China had initiated plans for attaining peaceful co-existence among nations before the Bandung conference held in Indonesia in April 1955. The conference, which had representatives from 29 governments of Asian and African nations, was convened “to discuss peace and the role of the third world in the Cold War, economic development, and decolonisation.”

Akinterinwa highlighted the existing cordial bilateral relations between China and North Korea, pointing out that China could not feel secure if there is “fire in the home of its neighbour (North Korea).”  He said the Chinese want development that is predicated on peace.

Since the North Korean crisis started, China has initiated several moves to reduce tension among the ‘warring’ countries, namely North Korea, the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Akinterinwa wanted the public to know that Beijing’s desire to calm nerves was not informed by fear of the negative deployment of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons, rather it is concerned about the threat to peace in the region in the event that the actors are allowed to pull the trigger.

“As a matter of fact, China is the main market for North Korea. In terms of tourism, North Korea is a destination for China and Russia,” Akinterinwa observed. He traced the nuclear crisis to the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty of 1968, noting that “negotiations date back to 1946 and 1949, when the world decided to learn lessons from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese communities bombed by the U.S. in a reprisal attack.”

While highlighting the diplomatic maneuvers that almost derailed the treaty, he said that China and France acceded to it only after “they had perfected” the development of their nuclear capability. On the other hand, North Korea, which initially acceded to the treaty had a re-think and withdrew to develop its nuclear arsenal. The question that immediately arose was: If the U.S., the United Kingdom, Russia, France and China have developed nuclear weapons, why not other interested countries, and why not North Korea? Akinterinwa was quick to proffer an answer. He said: “The issue now is how to balance the terror.”  He insists that sanctions will not scare North Korea from going ahead with its nuclear project. Among the reasons he adduced was that there is a gang-up against Pyongyang.

“North Korea decided to acquire nuclear power because the U.S., Japan and South Korea are in partnership, conducting annual military exercises, which Pyongyang had complained about without stop,” he said.

He believes that North Korea is applying the principle of deterrence. But how soon will the crisis be resolved? Akinterinwa said that China was not in a haste to deal with the problem, as a complex issues such as the North Korean nuclear crisis cannot be resolved overnight.

In a speech he delivered at the summit of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit held at the Xiamen International Conference in South East-China from September 3 to 5, Xi reportedly warned that “a dark shadow is looming over the world after more than half a century of peace.” 

Analysts believe that he was referring to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. Akinterinwa’s stance that China’s worry is about the threat to peace in the region and the world at large, confirms the Chinese President’s position that, “only through dialogue, consultation and negotiation could the flame of war be put out.” He also observed that, “incessant conflicts in some parts of the world and hotspot issues are posing challenges to world peace.”

Akinterinwa would not end his presentation without provoking the thoughts of Nigerians on the lessons that can be learnt from China’s growth and development. He said rhetorically: “As the celebration is on, we are saying here in Nigeria that there are lessons to learn from China’s style of development. There, the people work around the clock. The process of productivity is 24 hours. You could see the Chinese are more involved in strategic calculation”

Earlier, the Chairman of NICAF, Chinese-born Chief Jacob Wood, made remarks on “The Contribution of China to World Peace.” He recalled former Chairman Mao’s 100 years programme during which Chinese would become self-sufficient and advanced.

He said, today, China is giving back to the world because it had “received support from the world,” stressing that “China cannot exist alone, it’s part of the world. When China has challenges, it is poor countries that give it support.” He particularly mentioned the support China received from Nigeria at the United Nations.

In his remarks, Ambassador Wole Coker said that the Chinese think politics hence they have been able adopt a result-oriented ideology that guides the government in its planning and implementation of development projects: “They set five years for development plans and return to the drawing board at the end of the period to make appraisal and draw a new plan for another five years.”

He believes that China is giving support to other countries because it recognises its responsibility to the world. On Nigeria-China relations, he said: “We have chosen our friends. You cannot develop in isolation. Countries that harp on human rights also do business with China.” He, however, expressed worry that at a time the world is celebrating China, Nigerians “are still talking about corruption.”He wants Nigeria to emulate China, noting that “Chinese breed leaders, they learn, they go to school, so they are well prepared for leadership positions.”

In his reaction, Ambassador Adegboyega Ariyo expressed support for North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons.  He disagreed with the reasons the U.S. has advanced for opposing North Korea.

“There is nobody who is more rational than any other person. So, the issue of peace management cannot be entrusted to one person. No one can peg the level of scientific development of another,” he said.

He warned of the danger of trying to perpetually separate South Korea from North Korea, pointing out that there had been moves to unite the two countries: “What is happening in the peninsular is not in the interest of the people. No one has the right to perpetually separate the families. The 38th parallel was used arbitrarily to divide the people.”

He also commended President Muhammed Buhari for suggesting that the UN should set up a diplomatic committee to intervene in the crisis.“I need also to emphasize that peace is the most important objective China is pursuing in the world, because war hinders the process of development,” he said.

Contributing, Prof. Kunle Wahab observed that the concept of a development plan was not new to Nigeria except that the country has lost it: “We were having development plans but we lost it somehow. Our leaders are ageing and are being re-cycled.”

He also lamented the waste of farm products in Nigeria and called for a “strategic discussion” on development in Nigeria that would draw lessons from China’s five-year development plans.

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