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Decades after the end of the Korean War and the partition of Korea, the conflict on the Korean Peninsula remains one of the most dangerous and intractable problems of our time.If the color scale used today for terror threat levels were applied to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, it would show a shift from orange to red.South Korea and Japan – both important players in the global economy and close U.S. partners – are under immediate threat, whereas China and Russia, North Korea's two northern neighbors, are global nuclear powers with their own interests in the dispute.China, in particular, views the Korean Peninsula in terms of strategic security. Chinese leaders have not forgotten that Imperial Japan attacked Northern China (Manchuria) from the Korean Peninsula in the 1930s, or that it was U.S. troops' approach toward the Yalu River on China's border that prompted Chinese intervention in the Korean War, in the early 1950s.Nuclear or conventional war on the Korean Peninsula would carry incalculable regional and global risks.A diplomatic solution, however, can be achieved only if the U.S. and China cooperate closely and do not repeat past mistakes. For China to prove that it, too, can be a stabilizing power in the 21st century, it will have to do its part to resolve the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
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