China says the upcoming US-South Korean military drills will NOT help defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The United States is sending an aircraft carrier to participate in the four-day drills with South Korean naval forces. The joint military maneuvers follow the recent exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea.
While Beijing has voiced opposition against any military exercise in the region without its permission, Pyongyang says the maneuvers will bring both sides to the brink of an all-out war.
Tuesday's clashes came a day after Seoul announced that it's considering the redeployment of US nuclear weapons on its soil.
The following is Press TV's interview with Sara Flounders, the Co-Director at the International Action Center, discussing the issue:
Press TV:China has opposed any military action in its economic zone as the US gets set for war games with the South Korea. With the way things have played out in the Korean peninsula, is the issue greater than just a diplomatic standoff?
Sara Flounders: Yes, from the very beginning this was a direct and deliberate South Korean and US provocation.
Seventy thousand South Korean troops were engaged in what were called 'war maneuvers,' simulating an invasion of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, and they fired live ammunition directly into the Korean territory, and many times before the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea had warned against the firing of ammunition and against these military maneuvers.
Now for the past 60 years, all South Korean military maneuvers have been in participation and conjunction with the US forces, and this time also, the US forces were there.
So this was a deliberate provocation; missiles were fired at 1 pm on November 23rd, and it wasn't until an hour and half later that the DPRK or North Korea fired missiles back.
Now this is being totally distorted in the US media here -- and by Washington -- saying that the provocation came from North Korea.
Even though this is an act which took place in the direct territorial waters of North Korea, and as China has warned -- what is a US aircraft carrier battle group with destroyers, submarines, nuclear powered with cruise missiles launchers, jet aircraft, doing directly off of China's cost in the Yellow Sea? This is also China's territorial waters.
So, this certainly is a very dangerous standoff and immediately provoked by the US right after [US] President Obama's trip to South Korea just a little more than a week ago.
Press TV: Over the years, we have seen the demonization of North Korea by the US, and no doubt, South Korea's compliance. How do you think this policy has played into bringing the tensions between the two Koreas to the level they stand today?
Sara Flounders: Yes, this is an extremely dangerous development and it should be recognized that President Lee of South Korea came in on a right wing war policy. He stepped up the sanctions against North Korea and increased threats.
And this also comes directly from the US; in the years before that, in previous South Korean administrations, there had been what was called the 'Sunshine Policy.' And as a matter of fact, all South Korean vessels, including fishing vessels, were kept out of this area because it is clearly considered by North Korea -- by the Democratic People's Public of Korea -- part of their territorial waters.
So, this is a change in policy and it's very dangerous because it's part of a change in Washington's attitude towards China. With much more dangerous plans for the encirclement of China, military bases and aircraft carriers and so on; so it is an escalation on several fronts.
Press TV: But the question still remains, who stands to benefit from this? North Korea doesn't of course; the South doesn't either considering the economic walls that a war or any tension would bring to region, so who benefits?
Sara Flounders: Well that's a very good question, and that really goes to the heart of it, because also, the people of South Korea have made it clear they have no interest in another war.
The Korean War the US fought on their territory resulted in more than three million Korean deaths and total devastation -- North and South. Who does stand a benefit are the US military corporations, the huge industries that profit from the endless guaranteed contracts with giant subsidies in the building of aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines.
There's great profit to the US corporations in the policy of endless wars and as they are finding their limit (as to) what they are able to carry to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and these powerful economic forces in the US are very much pushing from many many different directions for other escalations.
It's a very dangerous situation. It comes at the very time when the economic crisis here in the US and globally -- this capitalist crisis is taking such a toll as these military maneuvers are going on next week ... during that very time more than 2 million working people in the US will be completely cut off (from) all jobless benefits. They've been unemployed now (for) almost two years of time.
So this is just what's going on here with the threat of war with new military contracts with high intentions, which do not benefit anyone in Korea, North or South. And as a matter of fact, the mass sentiment is for the signing of the peace treaty between the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Really the withdrawal of the US troops of occupation that are there now (for) more than 60 years, and for a normalization of relations -- these very reasonable demands raised, of course, by North Korea, but raised again and again by the mass movement and the people of South Korea.