China Blames Joint Military Drills by United States, South Korea, and Japan for Causing Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
On April 3, 2023, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning remarked that joint drills conducted by Japan, South Korea, and the United States are the principal actors causing tensions in the Korean peninsula. The day Mao made the comments the navies of the three allied nations started their first anti-submarine drills in six months to allegedly strengthen their coordination against what they perceive as growing missile threats from North Korea.
According to a report by Press TV, China criticized the two-day drills held at the the Sea of Japan as the primary source of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Chinese authorities have stressed that Japan, South Korea, and the United States “should stop military pressure and create favorable conditions to de-escalate tensions and resume dialog” in the area.
“The main reason behind the recent flaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula is the continuous military drills near the Peninsula by certain countries. Relevant parties need to stop military pressuring and create favorable conditions for the alleviation of tensions and resumption of dialog,” Mao declared at a press conference.
The drills involved the USS Nimitz and its strike group. The drills were carried out off Japan’s southern island of Jeju with the aim of confronting North Korea’s growing missile threat. On April 2, North Korean state media outlet KCNA news agency stated that the North would have a firm response to the joint exercises.
“China always upholds peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, denuclearization of the Peninsula and the establishment of a peace mechanism, and dialogue and consultation to resolve the issues,” the Chinese spokeswoman commented.
Mao took the US and its regional allies to task restart, saying while joint military drills with South Korea are still underway, drills by the US, Japan and the South “are now in succession.”
“A US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is still operating off the Korean Peninsula. This is the main reason for the persistent tension of the Korean Peninsula. We hope all parties can meet each other halfway, resolve respective legitimate concerns in a balanced manner, and safeguard peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman emphasized.
Per a statement by the South Korean Defense Ministry, the trilateral maritime drills were led by Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is the commander of Carrier Strike Group 11.
“The anti-submarine drills will focus on enhancing the countries’ capabilities to detect, track, share information on, and defeat the North’s underwater threats,” the statement claimed.
Currently, the US has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, which the North Koreans view as a threat. In a similar vein, the North Koreans view joint military drills spearheaded by the US as a rehearsal for a potential invasion of the North.
While North Korea is a brutal regime, there is no reason to pick a fight with a nuclear armed country. Instead, East Asian nations such as China, Japan, and South Korea should cooperate to bring stability to the Korean peninsula. Bringing the US into the mix will only further complicate matters and bring more instability into the picture.