Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference at the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in the capital, Beijing, March 8, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
China has called on the United States and South Korea to stop joint war games in the Korean Peninsula in exchange for a halt to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests as a step to defuse a looming crisis in the region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned at a press conference on Wednesday that the US and South Korea on the one side and the North on the other “are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.”
“The question is: are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains,” Wang said.
He expressed hope that “suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table.”
Washington and Seoul launched large-scale annual drills on the peninsula at the beginning of this month amid already high tensions in the area.
Pyongyang condemned the military exercises as dangerous nuclear war drills at its doorstep. On Monday, the North also fired four ballistic missiles, three of which went down in waters claimed by Japan as its sovereign territory, according to South Korean and Japanese officials.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately reacted to the launches by saying, “This clearly shows North Korea has entered a new stage of threat.”
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a test in this undated handout photo provided by the US Department of Defense. (Via Reuters)
The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, Ja Song-nam, has also warned that the US-South Korean military exercises are driving the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia toward “nuclear disaster.”
In a letter to the United Nations Security Council, he warned that the war games “may go over to an actual war and, consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.”
On Tuesday, the first pieces of a US-made missile system arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea.
North Korea has long opposed the controversial deployment of the US system in South Korea. It has been using the threat of American aggression as a reason to develop its own missile and nuclear programs.
In the drills with South Korea, the US is using nuclear-propelled aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers, and stealth fighters. The US has military forces in South Korea on a permanent basis.
China is also opposed to the installment of the US missile system in South Korea for its own security reasons.

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