Sunday, January 20, 2008

Beijing envoy on North Korea's risk : "We are facing a new world"!

If the international community did not react in a timely manner as internal order in North Korea deteriorated rapidly, China would seek to take the initiative in restoring stability, this is according to a report that appeared in several publications in the world, based on the Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Institute of Peace and other think-tanks newsletters reaching my mailbox recently.

Who could be the best person to comment this report if not a senior Chinese official who worked on the 6 party talks, Ambassador Cui Tian-kai himself? Ambassador Cui is the current envoy from China, the successor of Vice Minister Wang Yi.

Cui Tian-kai was our guest at FCCJ January 18th. He faced more than 150 guests. The diplomat received a lot of questions (18 questioners as president Williams accounted). As Co MC of the conference with our president, and listening attentively to his words, I had the last question to wrap up this sumptuous event. I focussed on two words the Chinese ambassador often mentioned. These words are: "Security cooperation". Then, I asked him on this theme what China would do if a risk of complication related to nuclear issues would come from unpredictable DPRK and if China troops would stop DPRK, should the regime alter the security of nations in North East Asia? I felt a silent angel passed through the room, everyone kept its breath and watched Mr. Cui.

The comment was answered first as "hypothetical", but the question was tough enough to draw further lines from the Beijing envoy and here is a summary of the comment of our guest speaker:

"Let's prevent such a situation to happen... we are ready to work with the others including DPRK... tension has been here for half a century... but we are facing a new world, China, Japan, Russia RK and DPRK are to work together and in a way that everyone can feel more secure and share the fruits of development."

This was the diplomatic way to comment and as it was not a direct answer, I then simply repeated my question to have a clear cut answer from Beijing's dignitary. His 2nd comment came, witted and straight: "If you entirely believe any news of our troops movement in the US press, then you might be mistaken". "No further question", I answered with a smile that we both shared, and the folks in the event's room could breathe again, applauding to the talent of ambassador Cui who surely passed "magna cum laude" his passage through the international press based in Tokyo on that day. Just 3 months after his assignment as the man who speaks smoothly and in an amiable manner.

Naturally one highlighted comment that one can find in the press is that ambassador Cui estimated that the long-standing dispute between Japan and China on gas exploration rights in the East China Sea will likely be settled "well before" a visit to Japan by Chinese President Hu Jintao in spring.

Remains to see if it would simply be a joint exploitation that would be secured or if we are talking about a comprehensive agreement in the East China Sea, including the tough litigious issue of the demarcation line (a fault line probably in favor of Beijing, some specialists say). The latter might be more difficult to negotiate these coming days between Tokyo and Beijing. But aren't things getting better these days and the music played more in tone between these two East Asian colossus?

Olympian tune!

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