Document:Xi Jinping says a dark shadow looms over the world after years of peace
A dark shadow is looming over the world after more than half a century of peace, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has said after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. Xi made no direct reference to Sunday morning’s detonation as he addressed an annual summit of the BRICS nations but told his audience that only through dialogue, consultation and negotiation could “the flame of war be put out”:
- “Thanks to the joint effort of all countries, global peace has reigned for more than half a century. However, incessant conflicts in some parts of the world and hotspot issues are posing challenges to world peace,” Xi said in his 40-minute address to the BRICS summit attended by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in south-east China. “The intertwined threats of terrorism and a lack of cybersecurity – among others – have cast a dark shadow over the world. People around the world want peace and cooperation, not conflict or confrontation.”
The timing of North Korea’s latest nuclear test represents a major diplomatic embarrassment for Xi, who has been attempting to burnish his credentials as a foreign policy guru ahead of a key Communist party congress next month. Last week, state media televised a six-part homage to Xi’s foreign policy achievements, hailing the “whirlwind of charisma” he had taken to five continents and 56 different countries since taking power nearly five years ago.
Xi had hoped to further boost his image as an international statesman by hosting this week’s BRICS summit, an event that has now been upstaged by Kim Jong-un’s nuclear test.
Sunday morning’s test caused a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which shook towns and villages along eastern sections of China’s 880-mile border with North Korea and sent residents racing out into the streets:
- “I was having lunch in a restaurant when the lights just started shaking,” Zhang Zhiyuan, a journalist for the Yanji News, who lives and works less than 20 miles from the border, told The Guardian. “People here have all run outside of their apartments.”
Hundreds of miles west in Beijing, the political reaction was muted. China’s foreign ministry issued a brief statement, in which it said Beijing “resolutely opposes and strongly condemns” the test. “China will work with the international community … to unswervingly push forward the denuclearisation of the peninsula and to unswervingly maintain peace and stability on the peninsula,” added the statement, which was similar to previous Chinese condemnations of North Korean tests.
The Global Times, a Communist party-controlled tabloid that sometimes reflects official views, criticised North Korea’s apparently most powerful nuclear test yet as “another wrong choice” from Pyongyang:
- “This test will result in a new round of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and heighten the risk of the situation spiraling out of control due to possible miscalculations by all sides,” it said in an English-language editorial. “In face of such a complicated situation, China needs a sober mind.”
“The Chinese government should feel angry, unhappy and disappointed,” said Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University. “The nuclear test is a slap in the face for China.”
Experts say Beijing is wary of placing too much pressure on Pyongyang for fear of causing regime collapse and a calamitous regional crisis that might ultimately bring US troops even closer to Chinese soil. But Cheng said he believed Beijing needed to ratchet up the pressure on Kim while also dispatching a special envoy to Pyongyang for direct talks with its leaders. “I think it’s time for everybody to put their cards on the table. The time for business-as-usual has passed.”
- “North Korea is determined to get nuclear weapons [so] whatever sanctions and international opposition there is will fail. China will continue to promote failure through its failing policy of more tests, more sanctions, more sanctions, more tests. China has entered a deadlock. North Korea will get nuclear weapons just like China did in the 1960s ... China is destined to fail.
Shen said he also believed it was only a matter of time before Donald Trump realised he had no choice but to sit down with Kim:
- “He is a businessman. He is a smart man. Donald Trump will be the first US president to accept North Korea’s nuclear weapons,” he said.
- “They are barrelling ahead on their nuclear and missile programmes and we need to find an off-ramp.”