Chinese desire a 'soft landing' for Korean crisis

In an exclusive interview with the BBC aired Thursday, China's new ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming commented on the mounting tensions following North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship. When asked if he thought the situation would get worse, Lui replied,

This kind of crisis is not strange to us....We understand this tragic event happened, but we should keep the big picture in mind, that is peace and stability in the region. We will work to insure there will be a soft landing of the crisis as we have successfully managed previous crises.

Ambassador Liu knows the process well. Prior to his London posting, he was Beijing's ambassador to Pyongyang, 2006-2009. During those years, North Korea tested a variety of missiles, including the long-range ballistic Taepodong-2 which, if further developed, could reach parts of the United States. Also during Lui's tenure, Pyongyang conducted two nuclear bomb tests. Beijing "successfully managed" the resulting international uproar over Pyongyang's provocations so that nothing disturbed the "peace and stability" of the Kim Jong-Il regime.

In other words, North Korea has gotten away with its aggressive acts and China intends for it to escape again. It was a clear act of war for its submarine to ambush and torpedo a South Korean corvette with the loss of 46 crewmen. Yet, Beijing's desire for a "soft landing" without any dire consequence to its ally is the likely outcome.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has proclaimed that the international response to the sinking of the ROK corvette "Will not be and cannot be business as usual." Yet, if the only reaction to the attack is to appeal to the United Nations, where China holds a veto, then business as usual is the inevitable outcome. What else can result from taking the same path as Beijing has always dictated, "stay calm and exercise restraint."

If North Korea has nothing to fear from retaliation for its weapons programs and military actions, it has no reason to change course. And Beijing has no reason to restrain Pyongyang as long as its proxy is demonstrating the weakness of America and its allies, a weakness China can exploit as well on a variety of issues.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC aired Thursday, China's new ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming commented on the mounting tensions following North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship. When asked if he thought the situation would get worse, Lui replied,

This kind of crisis is not strange to us....We understand this tragic event happened, but we should keep the big picture in mind, that is peace and stability in the region. We will work to insure there will be a soft landing of the crisis as we have successfully managed previous crises.

Ambassador Liu knows the process well. Prior to his London posting, he was Beijing's ambassador to Pyongyang, 2006-2009. During those years, North Korea tested a variety of missiles, including the long-range ballistic Taepodong-2 which, if further developed, could reach parts of the United States. Also during Lui's tenure, Pyongyang conducted two nuclear bomb tests. Beijing "successfully managed" the resulting international uproar over Pyongyang's provocations so that nothing disturbed the "peace and stability" of the Kim Jong-Il regime.

In other words, North Korea has gotten away with its aggressive acts and China intends for it to escape again. It was a clear act of war for its submarine to ambush and torpedo a South Korean corvette with the loss of 46 crewmen. Yet, Beijing's desire for a "soft landing" without any dire consequence to its ally is the likely outcome.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has proclaimed that the international response to the sinking of the ROK corvette "Will not be and cannot be business as usual." Yet, if the only reaction to the attack is to appeal to the United Nations, where China holds a veto, then business as usual is the inevitable outcome. What else can result from taking the same path as Beijing has always dictated, "stay calm and exercise restraint."

If North Korea has nothing to fear from retaliation for its weapons programs and military actions, it has no reason to change course. And Beijing has no reason to restrain Pyongyang as long as its proxy is demonstrating the weakness of America and its allies, a weakness China can exploit as well on a variety of issues.

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