Following the successful test-firing of a missile by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, China and Russia called on the United States to refrain from moving forward with provocative military exercises that threaten to inflame tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The two countries issued a joint statement reiterating their desire for the DPRK, United States and U.S. ally South Korea to begin negotiating a resolution to the regional crisis, which escalated following President Donald Trump's tweets and accompanying belligerent diplomacy from the White House.
“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” the U.S. head of state tweeted in a characteristic fit of pique, drawing an uproarious reaction.
Despite the celebrity-turned-president's outrage, Moscow and Beijing responded in a far more measured and restrained manner.
"We are alarmed and concerned and are following the developments in Northeast Asia with a great deal of apprehension," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow Tuesday. "The most important thing now is not to go overboard with a response. Those who take a responsible approach towards the task of ensuring peace should understand that using this incident as a pretext for triggering another spiral of countermeasures, which will inevitably lead to reciprocal steps, is a tried and tested dead-end track."
Likewise, China's foreign affairs ministry expressed its hope that all parties begin to work in earnest to ease tensions and arrive at a proper track of consultation and dialogue, according to ministry spokesperson Geng Shuan.
Moscow and Beijing presented a unified stance Tuesday following U.S. denunciations and threats toward Pyongyang in a joint statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry website, urging members of the world community to support efforts to defuse the crisis.
"The parties suggest that North Korea should declare a moratorium on nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests as a voluntary political decision, while the U.S. and South Korea should refrain from holding large-scale joint military exercises," the foreign ministries urged, adding that principles of the non-use of force and a renunciation of aggression should be embraced.
Likewise, the two countries called for Washington and Seoul to reverse the deployment of the controversial U.S. missile shield known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.
"The sides confirm that the deployment of THAAD ABM systems in Northeast Asia is causing serious damage to the interests of the strategic security of regional states, including Russia and China, and is not contributing to the attainment of the goals of the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization and, likewise, to the provision of peace and stability in the region," the statement said, adding that the cancellation of THAAD's deployment and the maintenance of the region's strategic balance must be ensured, in addition to taking Russia and China's security interests into due consideration.
Analysts and defense specialists are split on whether the DPRK missile was, in fact, an intercontinental ballistic missile, as many Western analysts have claimed in alarmist reports on potential attacks on the U.S. mainland. Tuesday's test, however, is sure to give Pyongyang an upper hand in future negotiations, remarked Chinese missile expert Yang Chengjun to Global Times.
In an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia, Ryabkov stressed the need for the United States to muster the political will to sit at the table and arrive at a political solution or risk provoking the worst crisis in East Asia since the U.S. war on the Korean peninsula.
“We are urging them to join these efforts (at reducing tensions), although we understand that considering the campaign to demonize the DPRK, which has been going on for many years, the Americans will find it difficult to give up this logic of pressure,” the Russian diplomat said. “But there is no alternative to this method.”