'Provocative moves must be halted'
Updated: 2016-03-11 00:53
By ZHANG YUNBI(China Daily)
The US Navy amphibious assault ships USS Bonhomme Richard, bottom, and USS Boxer, second from top, are underway with the Republic of Korea Navy Dokdo Amphibious Ready Group in the East Sea during exercise Ssang Yong 2016, March 8, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
China has urged all parties to stop "provocative actions" and maintain calm and restraint to prevent tension from escalating on the Korean Peninsula.
Earlier on Thursday, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched two short-range missiles and declared it would liquidate all of the Republic of Korea's assets in the DPRK, Xinhua reported.
It said it will also nullify all inter-Korean economic cooperation projects in response to Seoul's unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, after the UN Security Council voted to adopt a tough resolution against Pyongyang earlier this month.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday that "the US and the Republic of Korea have started large-scale joint military drills in the ROK, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has consistently responded fiercely" to what it perceives as threats.
"China expresses serious concern about the situation," he said.
Zhang Liangui, an expert in Korean studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said this is not the first time that the DPRK has decided to liquidate assets of the ROK, and the capital involved is "limited".
"So the decision is actually a symbolic move, serving as a protest," Zhang said.
He estimated that "it was unlikely that tension on the peninsula would lessen in the short term" because the US and its allies will continue to act in ways that prompt the DPRK to react militarily.
Shi Yongming, an Asia-Pacific studies researcher at the China Institute of International Relations, echoed Zhang, saying that the US and ROK are pressuring the DPRK militarily and politically.
At a time that the US and ROK are conducting drills on the peninsula, they also refuse to enter into negotiations unless the DPRK gives up its nuclear programs first, Shi said.
As a result, Pyongyang has no choice but to react militarily, including its recent short-range missile launches, Shi said.
"As the DPRK has no assurance that its security concerns will be addressed, it feels unsafe to engage in negotiations now about its nuclear programs," Shi added.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi talked by telephone with US Secretary of State John Kerry about issues including the situation on the peninsula.
Wang said the situation is "highly charged" and China's reasonable and legitimate strategic security concerns and interests must not be damaged.