Liu Xiaoming: Act on the Global Security Initiative and Advance Political Settlement of the Korean Peninsula Issue

  • Liu Xiaoming: Special Representative of the Chinese Government for Korean Peninsula Affairs, China Forum expert.

    Act on the Global Security Initiative and Advance Political Settlement of the Korean Peninsula Issue 

    ----Speech by Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming

     At the European Institute for Asian Studies


    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Good afternoon!

    Last year, I had a discussion here at the EIAS with CEO Axel Goethals and many other European scholars on the Korean Peninsula and other issues of shared interest, which left me fond memories. It's a pleasure to be back for a dialogue with an even bigger audience. This time I'm visiting the EU headquarters and several European countries to discuss the Korean Peninsula issue with relevant parties, and exchange views on international and regional situations and other subjects of mutual interest. The theme of my speech today is “Act on the Global Security Initiative and Advance Political Settlement of the Korean Peninsula Issue ”.


    As a leading think tank on relations between the EU and Asia, the EIAS has provided a good platform for enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation by organizing exchanges among officials, scholars, and interested people of the EU and Asia. At present, Europe, Asia and the world at large are facing complex security challenges. This makes our discussion on the Korean Peninsula and global security today most opportune and relevant.

    In the past few years, peace talks on the Korean Peninsula reached a deadlock. Recently, the build-up of tension and confrontation has drawn much attention from the international community. What's wrong with the peninsula? What should we do about it? The parties concerned are visibly divided on these questions, and some have even made up false narratives to scapegoat others and shirk responsibility. China believes that it is important to approach the Korean Peninsula issue based on facts and address its root cause. The reason why this issue has been protracted for so many years is two-fold. On the one hand, old problems have not been resolved: vestige of the Cold War lingers; a transition from the armistice to a peace mechanism is yet to be realized; and the peninsula remains shrouded by the clouds of mutual hostility and military confrontation. On the other hand, new problems have emerged: in recent years, it has become increasingly clear that a certain country is seeking to exploit the issue for geopolitical gains; it is openly promoting bloc confrontation, reinforcing military deployment and, even worse, applying double standards on nuclear non-proliferation. All these have undermined mutual trust and consensus among the parties concerned.

    The Korean Peninsula issue is, in essence, a security issue. How to get the peninsula out of its security dilemma and the vicious cycle of hostility and confrontation? Chinese President Xi Jinping put forth the Global Security Initiative, or GSI, calling on countries to adapt to the profound global changes in the spirit of solidarity, and take a win-win approach to the complex security challenges. This initiative aims to remove the root causes of international conflicts, improve global security governance, and encourage collective efforts by the international community to create more stability and certainty at a time of turbulence, so as to achieve durable peace and development of the world.

    Not long ago, China released the GSI Concept Paper. Its core idea is to firmly support the central role of the UN in security governance, promote coordination and sound interactions among major countries, actively pursue peaceful settlement of hotspot issues through dialogue, effectively manage traditional and non-traditional challenges, and further improve the system and capacity for global security governance. It shows China's sense of responsibility to world peace and our firm commitment to global security.


    Against this background, we are encouraged to see that Saudi Arabia and Iran have achieved significant outcomes in improving bilateral ties. As we speak, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran are having a historic meeting in Beijing. This is great news for a world of turbulence and a good example of GSI in action. It has sent a clear message to the world. That is: no matter how complicated or tough the problem is, the parties concerned will find a mutually acceptable solution if they engage in dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and equality. It proves once again that the practices of  “supporting one party and suppressing the other”, “ divide and rule ” or “ bloc confrontation” were never the right ways to deal with security issues. Instead, to foster durable peace and security for regions and the world at large, we need to follow the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, pursue the long-term objective of building a security community, and advocate a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance, and win-win over zero-sum. The GSI and cases of its successful implementation have offered useful insights for addressing the security flashpoints at hand.

    First, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. Sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs are the bedrocks of modern international law and international relations. We must unequivocally and consistently respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, respect the efforts of countries to safeguard their national unity and solidarity, and reject the practice of double standards or saying one thing but doing another. Some countries, while making high-sounding appeal for safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity on Ukraine, show no respect for China's sovereignty and territorial integrity on Taiwan.

    China has all along respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, and firmly defended international equity and justice. We expect other countries to do the same when it comes to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will continue to work with the greatest sincerity and utmost efforts to pursue peaceful reunification of the motherland. Meanwhile, China will resolutely curb acts of separatism and interference to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. For peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, the real threat is the separatist forces for “Taiwan independence”, while its solid anchor is the one-China principle. When the one-China principle is upheld, peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait can be maintained and peaceful development of cross-Strait relations realized. Otherwise, peace and tranquility would be untenable.

    Second, security is indivisible. The world is already a community where everyone has a common stake. The security of one country should not come at the expense of other countries' security. We believe in the indivisibility between individual security and common security, and between traditional security and non-traditional security. Either on the Korean Peninsula issue or on the Ukraine crisis, the unilateral pursuit of absolute security will damage mutual trust, worsen the security dilemma and cause insecurity for all. Only by accommodating the security of all parties and addressing each other's reasonable concerns in a balanced way can we ease tension, reduce confrontation and eventually achieve cooperative and common security.

    Talking about the indivisibility of security, I wish to draw your attention to Japan's discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. In total disregard of the grave concerns expressed by the international community, the Japanese government recently decided to discharge nuclear contaminated water of Fukushima into the ocean. Such an action contravenes Japan's obligations under the international law, and it is certainly not what a responsible country is supposed to do. The discharge of nuclear contaminated water is not something that Japan can decide on its own. We urge Japan to take the legitimate concerns of other parties seriously, conduct full consultation with all stakeholders and relevant international institutions, dispose of nuclear contaminated water in a science-based, open, transparent and safe manner, and place itself under strict international monitoring. After all, what is at stake is the future of our shared planet, the only home of humanity.

    Third, pressure campaign cannot resolve disputes, solution to disagreements can only be found via dialogue. There is no easy solution to complex issues. History and practices have proven time and again that dialogue and consultation are the best way to defuse conflicts. Back in 1991 and 1992, the US announced the withdrawal of its nuclear weapons from the ROK and suspended the Team Spirit joint military exercise. The DPRK responded with good will, issuing the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula together with the ROK and giving access to the IAEA for verification. By contrast, when the US resumed Team Spirit drills in 1993 and conducted multiple rounds of large scale military exercises in 2017, it triggered the first Korean nuclear crisis and unprecedented tension on the peninsula. All parties concerned should draw lessons from these episodes of history. The US, in particular, must recognize that instead of inducing good will from the DPRK, doubling down on coercion and pressure would only heighten tensions and deepen trust deficit.

    As a close neighbor to the Korean Peninsula and a responsible major country, China has always been committed to maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, to realizing denuclearization of the peninsula and establishment of a peace mechanism, and to resolving the issue through dialogue. We have all along endeavored to promote peace talks. The dual-track approach proposed by China and the September 19th Joint Statement of the Six-party Talks, which are consistent with the spirit of the GSI, address the crux of the Korean Peninsula issue and accommodate the legitimate concerns of all parties involved. They have played an important role for improving the peninsula situation, and remain the only viable path to a political settlement in the future. China stands ready to work with all parties concerned to synergize our efforts in promoting dialogue and jointly play a constructive role for advancing the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue .

    Fourth, it is important to practice true multilateralism and uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We must firmly reject Cold War mentality, bloc confrontation or group politics on the peninsula, and work to build a balanced, effective and sustainable architecture for collective security. It is imperative to put the larger interest embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter above one’s own lesser interest, and not use hotspot security issues as tools of offshore balancing .

    Fifth, we need to address both the symptoms and root cause of the Korean Peninsula issue. The key to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula lies in untying the security dilemma and armistice and establishing a peace mechanism. This is the fundamental solution for lasting peace and security on the peninsula, because the root cause of the Korean Peninsula issue is the failure to transition from the armistice to a peace mechanism, which led to a lack of mutual trust and military confrontation between relevant parties. In particular, due to persistent military threat and sanctions from the United States, the DPRK could not find solid safeguards for its security and enabling environment for its development. If we do not work on this root cause , the peninsula will remain in the security dilemma of military confrontation and arms race, and the recurrent cycles of escalation could hardly be avoided.

    Sixth, its is important to promote coordination and sound interaction among major countries. The GSI calls on major countries to take the lead in upholding equality, cooperation and the rule of law, and in opposing hegemony, bullying and domination.

    The China-US relationship holds significance that goes beyond the bilateral scope, and its future direction is vital to world peace and security. China is committed to promoting sound and stable growth of its relations with the US. At the same time, we hope the US will abandon its zero-sum Cold War mentality and work with us to explore the right way forward.

    On Europe, it is our consistent view that China and Europe are two major civilizations and two major forces for world peace and human progress. My visit this time to European capitals and my attendance at the Zermatt Roundtable on Security Issues in Northeast Asia hosted by Switzerland have shown how much importance China attaches to the important role and unique influence of Europe. If China and Europe choose dialogue and cooperation, confrontational blocs will not be formed. If China and Europe choose peace and stability, a new Cold War will be avoided. We are prepared to strengthen cooperation with Europe on regional hotspots such as the Korean Peninsula. Together, we can explore proposals and plans for easing tension and confrontation and returning to the track of political settlement, so as to safeguard peace and stability of the peninsula.

    Ladies and gentlemen ,

    The GSI is based on the core tenet that countries in the world are interdependent, and all members of humanity share the same future, hence the need for global solidarity and cooperation. This initiative has offered a more systematic approach and more practical solutions to difficult global security challenges. We welcome all countries to join the GSI and are ready to work with the international community to build a more peaceful, more secure and better world for all.

    Thank you ! Now I would like to take your questions.

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