“Beijing has an interest, a clear self-interest in helping to pursue the denuclearization of DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea),” he said in a press conference after the “two plus two” talks in Seoul that involved Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, and Defense Minister Suh Wook.
“Because it is a source of instability, it is a source of danger and obviously a threat to us and our partners, but China has a real interest in helping to deal with this,” he added.
Blinken later pointed out that Beijing possesses a “unique” relationship with the reclusive state and “tremendous” influence over Kim Jong-un’s regime.
“I would hope that whatever happens going forward, China will use that influence effectively,” he said.
Only hours before the meeting, North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said that Pyongyang will continue to ignore any direct contact from the United States unless the Joe Biden administration ends its continuous “hostile” policies.
“I’m aware of (the remarks), but what I am most interested in right now are the comments and thoughts of our allies and partners, which is why we are here, as we complete our review, so that’s what we’re focused on,” Blinken said.
“We are committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, reducing the broader threat the DPRK poses to the United States and our allies, and improving the lives of all Koreans, including the people of North Korea, who continue to suffer widespread and systematic abuses within the hands of the repressive government,” he added.
Like the day before, Blinken took another swipe at China’s “aggressive and authoritarian behavior” in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other regions. Beijing’s extensive territorial claims in the East and South China Seas, which are contested by Japan and other countries in the region, have become a high-priority issue.
Due to Beijing’s claims, Japan has sought even closer relations with the United States. Seoul, however, does not appear to want to provoke China, its largest economic partner and an ally of North Korea.
“We are clear-eyed about Beijing’s consistent failure to uphold its commitments,” Blinken said.
“At a time when we’re seeing a rollback of democracy and human rights around the world, including in Burma, where the military is attempting to overturn the results of the democratic election by brutally repressing peaceful protesters, it is more important than ever that we stand together for the values and for the interests that unite us,” he added.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.