Weekly Insights and Analysis

China’s Call for Six Party Talks: Cynical or Naïve?

December 1, 2010

By Scott Snyder

China’s response to North Korea’s artillery shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last week has been relatively rapid compared to the slowness of its response to the sinking last March (it took three weeks for the Chinese government to express its condolences in response to the sinking of the Cheonan). But, as underscored in Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review and Aidan-Foster Carter’s article in Foreign Policy, it is unlikely to satisfy American expectations. China’s proposal of an emergency session of the six parties is a non-starter that confuses form versus substance. Resumption of Six Party Talks would be a way of affirming what President Obama called last June China’s “willful blindness” toward North Korea by perpetuating the illusion that diplomatic efforts to deal with North Korea have not failed.

Read the full piece on the Council on Foreign Relations blog Asia Unbound.

Scott Snyder directs The Asia Foundation’s Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He can be reached at

Related locations: Korea
Related topics: Center for U.S.-Korea Policy, North Korea


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