Indispensable support for peninsula peace process
The United States is checking reports that three US detainees the previous administration tried hard to bring home, have been relocated from a labor camp to a hotel in Pyongyang, seemingly ready for release. This would suggest the planned summit between Democratic People's Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump is proceeding smoothly.
Which hopefully will continue to be the case.
Not least, because it will put the issue of denuclearization on the table. And what needs to be done to achieve that.
At their potentially epoch-making meeting in the border village of Panmunjom last month, Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in and Kim confirmed that their common goals include a peace treaty and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
And Trump has said that he will not deem his meeting with Kim a success without a serious commitment to denuclearization on Kim's part.
So it seems that everybody could be on a similar wavelength at last.
And yet ...
Considering the past flip-flops on the matter, any denuclearization agreement will require a mutually agreed road map and timetable for both sides to honor their commitments if it is to be both credible and workable.
This is the ultimate test that may make or break the latest attempt to maneuver lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
And this is where China has an indispensable role to play.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Pyongyang, which culminated in a meeting with Kim, was important as it came as the discourse is beginning to shift to that potential stumbling block.
Beijing has demonstrated a continuous commitment to playing a constructive role in brokering a multilateral consensus on denuclearization. And its emphasis on properly addressing Pyongyang's security concerns focuses on perhaps the only way to bridge the gap between competing requests.
President Xi Jinping assured Kim during the latter's visit to Beijing in March that China is committed to developing the traditional friendly relations between the two countries.
There is no reason why China should give less than full support to the upcoming talks between Kim and Trump and the improvement of inter-Korean relations.
It is undeniable that positive changes have taken place on the Korean Peninsula, and with Kim saying Pyongyang is now willing to concentrate on economic construction, it's time to finally put out the slow-burning fuse.