Press says US-South Korea drill sends wrong signal

North Korean papers have joined the Chinese press in a chorus of disapproval about the US-South Korea military drill taking place in the Sea of Japan. The US relocated the drill - aimed at sending a warning to North Korea after it sank a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, earlier this year - from the Yellow Sea after China protested.

Image caption North Korea has protested against the exercises

Government-run papers in North Korea said the exercises amounted to a test scenario for an attack on the peninsula, and warned that the country was ready for a "sacred war" in retaliation. Chinese papers said the US was trying to retain the upper hand in north-east Asian security affairs, and argued that dialogue through the established six-party talks mechanism was a better way to keep peace in the region.

Many papers deplored what they saw as an emerging "Cold War" situation with China's, North Korea's and Russia's interests lining up in opposition to those of Japan, South Korea and the US. Most South Korean and Japanese dailies did not comment directly on the drill.

North Korea's Nodong Sinmun (party paper)

What should not go unnoticed here is the danger of the joint exercises now under way in the East Sea of Korea by the US and South Korean warmongers, with huge armed forces involved. Officially, they are termed military exercises, but they are in fact a three-dimensional test war for an all-out attack on the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea - North Korea's official name]. They will have to pay a dear price if they persist in the criminal act of harassing peace and security on the peninsula, defying our repeated warnings.

North Korea's Minju Joson (cabinet daily)

The real intention of the United States and the South Korean warmongers is to unleash a nuclear war of northward aggression when an opportunity presents itself... We, too, have armed forces... Our army and people will confidently stand against the commotion of the nuclear war exercise kicked up by the US imperialists and the South Korean puppets with our powerful nuclear deterrent, and will start a sacred war in order to retaliate in our own style at any moment we consider necessary.

China's Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (Chinese Communist Youth League paper)

It is undeniable that what lies behind the US and South Korean military exercises against North Korea is the deeper issue of the game between the two big powers of China and the US in the Asia Pacific region.

China's China Daily (official English-language paper)

The timing and unprecedented scale of joint military exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea [South Korea], which began Sunday, could open a Pandora's box, thrusting north-east Asia and the Korean peninsula into the centrepiece of contention in yet another great power game... History has repeatedly proved that the flexing of muscles is ineffective in securing peace, especially in a region already brimming with serious security concerns... In such a scenario, it is clear that those who have a penchant for sabre rattling will, to say the least, find their popularity graphs sliding pretty quickly.

Li Daguang in China's Liaowang Xinwen Zhoukan (Outlook Weekly magazine)

The location of the US-South Korea joint military exercise has shifted from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan, indicating that the US clearly understands that this is no trivial matter for Sino-US relations.

South Korea's Hankyoreh (pro-North Korean daily)

A Cold War structure of antagonism has continued to become more evident by the day in north-east Asia, as nations split into opposing camps. The spark that reignited this antagonism was one incident, the sinking of the Cheonan, but in the background of this situation remains the aggressive foreign policy approaches of several countries.

Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po (Beijing-backed daily)

There is currently no better [peace] mechanism in north-east Asia than the six-party talks. The US should abandon its approach of using military provocation to destroy the stability of Northeast Asia. At present, the US urgently needs China's full co-operation on a series of regional and international issues, and opening another battlefront to fight with China is extremely unwise.

Taiwan's China Times (Chinese-language paper)

The Cheonan crisis has made the situation in north-east Asia return to a 'Cold War-style' situation... The confrontation over the Yellow Sea military exercise is in fact a fight between China and the US... The US wants to take the opportunity to seize the initiative in security in Northeast Asia.

Taiwan's Central Daily News (Kuomintang daily)

Given [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il's personality, it is clear that he will certainly react against joint pressure from the US and South Korea. Therefore, although the risk of a large-scale war in future is not great, a small-scale military conflict is extremely likely

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