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Peninsula instability serves no party's interests: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-06 20:48

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are rising markedly, with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea having upped the ante in their confrontation across the border.

The situation took a notable turn for the worse last week after the DPRK started sending hundreds of trash-carrying balloons to its southern neighbor, in what it claimed was a tit-for-tat response to the ROK's years-long practice of sending balloons with anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

ROK officials say they have no legal grounds to ban private citizens from flying balloons to the north, given the country's constitutional court last year already invalidated a law criminalizing such leafleting, on the ground that it violates free speech.

In reaction to Pyongyang's recent balloon campaign, the ROK has fully suspended a 2018 tension-easing agreement with the DPRK, allowing its troops to restart live-fire exercises and anti-Pyongyang propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts in the border area, actions that are certain to prompt the DPRK to take its own military steps as countermeasures.

Seemingly eager to add fuel to the fire, the United States on Wednesday flew a B-1B bomber over the Korean Peninsula for its first precision-guided bombing drill with the ROK in seven years.

Given the DPRK has previously responded to such flyovers of advanced US aircraft with missile tests, there are growing worries that the Korean Peninsula will again be plunged into a vicious circle of tensions and confrontation, which will pose huge challenges to peace and stability in the region and beyond.

Floating balloons across the border, no matter for what purpose, serves no strategic interests for either side on the peninsula. Rather, it will naturally be taken as an act of provocation by the targeted party and thus will only further aggravate the animosity between the two sides and undermine any attempts to build mutual trust. That is why sending anti-DPRK leaflets across the border has even been a controversial issue within the ROK, prompting at times clashes between activists and residents in the border areas fearing their life and business could be disrupted by increasing tensions.

Given the severe consequences intensified tensions on the peninsula will inevitably cause, the two sides need to exercise restraint, and speak and act prudently to prevent the situation from getting even worse.

It is the shared responsibility of relevant parties to make positive efforts for the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. After all, maintaining peace, stability and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula is not only in the common interest of the DPRK and the ROK, it is also in the interest of all countries in the region.

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