Source: Global Times Published: 2017-4-11
An aircraft-carrier strike group led by USS Carl Vinson, previously scheduled for a port call in Australia, changed its course and headed toward the Korean peninsula Sunday. What caused this change? How will it influence the already strained situation on the Korean Peninsula? Global Times reporter Yang Chuchu talked with two scholars on these issues.
Lü Chao, research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences
According to media reports, North Korea could be ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test. In this case, Carl Vinson`s change of course may be motivated by North Korea`s nuclear activities.
Once Pyongyang conducts the test, Washington might directly strike against the country like what it did to Syria last week. However, US actions would exacerbate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and escalate the volatile situation to a breaking point.
US President Donald Trump has been hawkish toward North Korea. But whether Washington will take military actions against Pyongyang is uncertain. Syria and North Korea are totally different countries whether it is from the perspective of geopolitics, military capabilities or the style of their leaders. If the US attacks North Korea, Pyongyang`s response can be extremely fierce and it may even retaliate against South Korea. The peninsula might eventually be dragged into a hot war.
However, the stability of the Korean Peninsula is in line with the fundamental interests of the US. If armed conflict breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, the US will inevitably drift into war and bear huge strategic risks. Therefore, the Trump administration may not really take military actions against North Korea.
North Korea is a neighboring country to both China and Russia. Therefore, Beijing and Moscow will spare no effort to prevent any armed conflicts from happening on the Korean Peninsula. In addition, it is believed that Seoul is not willing to see a hot war on the Korean Peninsula either.
Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs, Renmin University of China
Carl Vinson`s change of course demonstrates that the Trump administration will not withdraw from its dominant role in international affairs. Trump`s domestic and foreign policies have met some resistance. He is now adjusting these policies.
Trump also hopes to exert influence on the upcoming South Korean presidential election, given that all opposition parties in South Korea seem to reject the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system. In addition, the US wishes to deter North Korea as this Saturday marks the 105th birthday of its founder and first leader, Kim Il-sung.
A military attack on North Korea has always been on the US` agenda. But the risk for US` military strikes against North Korea is high. For example, if Washington starts a war against Pyongyang, it has to consider issues such as how to take care of the refugees and the possibility of more nuclear tests in North Korea. It has been proven that peace talks, sanctions and military exercises cannot impede North Korea`s nuclear development.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is in a vicious cycle. It seems that conflicts and confrontations there will be inevitable. China should make full preparations for the possible outbreak of wars. But this does not mean that a military conflict will start anytime soon. The US sending Carl Vinson to North Korea is aimed at forcing North Korea to change its course over nuclear development. If this goal cannot be achieved, Washington may take new measures against Pyongyang.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.