Strategic patience and direct dialogue are essential to helping unlock the severe stalemate on the Korean Peninsula where irresponsible brinkmanship has once again raised the specter of war and triggered muscle flexing by rivals.

In response to the recent rocket launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and its fourth nuclear test early last month, the United States threatened to impose tougher sanctions against the Asian nation. It also sent four nuclear-capable stealth fighters flying over South Korea on Wednesday in a show of force.

Enraged Seoul has also reacted strongly against Pyongyang’s rocket launch and has begun preparatory talks with Washington on deploying the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defence system in South Korea.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye vowed to play hardball and “prioritize the stick over the carrot in bringing pyongyang into line.”

For its part, the DPRK announced last week to expel all South Koreans from the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Zone, shut down the joint venture factory, and freeze the South Korean assets.

The current vicious circle on the Korean Peninsula issue is disheartening as it pushes the prospect of peacefully solving the Korean Peninsula problem far away.

What is more agonizing is that the efforts to promote peace talks and political settlement are met with growing skepticism, with some politicians in the United States and South Korea questioning the effectiveness of the long-stalled six-party talks.

All parties concerned should be conscious of the extreme sensitivity of the current situation on the troubled peninsula, which can be pushed into an uncontrollable quagmire by any slight strategic miscalculation, let alone the deterrence strategy bigotedly pursued by some parties.

As the saying goes, all who take the sword will perish by it. Unchecked escalations of confrontation between nuclear-carrying parties on the peninsula will be a misfortune unbearable to all.

China has said it will not brook nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, nor will allow it to fall into warfare or unrest. While stressing that the DPRK should pay the price for stubbornly violating UN resolutions, Beijing has also urged all parties concerned to make earnest efforts to ease the tension on the peninsula and help resume the six-party talks.

It is worth noting that the thorny Iranian nuclear issue has been solved by a peaceful mean, so the international community should also give the Korean Peninsular conundrum a sincere chance at the negotiating table. Tit-for-tat retaliations will only lead to a lose-lose situation.

By ZHU DONGYANG Feb. 18, 2016 on XinhuaNet

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