U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, left, and Chinese Gen. Ma Xiaotian, right, talk during a meeting in Beijing, Sep. 29, 2009. They met about North Korea amid signs Pyongyang may be willing to restart talks on its nuclear programs.
"The Art of China's Mediation during the Nuclear Crisis on the Korean Peninsula"
Journal Article, Asian Affairs: An American Review, volume 36, issue 2, pages 79-96
Authors: Jason Qian, Xiaohui (Anne) Wu, Former Associate, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, 2007–2010; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, 2004–2007
Mediating regional conflict in Asia is a delicate art. It requires an acute understanding of the unique mediation culture in the region. China's mediation in the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula reveals key elements of this art and offers useful lessons. China's experience illustrates that an influential but neutral and harmony-oriented mediator is critical in the Asian context. It is equally essential for the mediator to (1) abide by the principle of noninterference in other countries' internal affairs while maintaining active intervention as dispute escalates, (2) stand ready to nudge those being mediated toward action when necessary to advance peaceful negotiations, (3) establish an optimal environment to foster communication and reduce hostility between the major parties in dispute, (4) serve as an honest broker but remain firm in its own position and cautiously take initiatives to guide the talks, (5) advocate a step-by-step approach to the negotiation process, and (6) aim for the outcome of negotiations to be a give-and-take agreement. Although Asia is a conflict-prone region, Asians traditionally confuse mediation with meddling. As a result, non-Asians often try to serve as mediators for Asia. For more effective mediations, it is essential that Asians rediscover their useful mediation skills and that non-Asians better understand the Asian art of mediation when they act as mediator.
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