China Refuses to Criticise N Korea (Updated)
At a summit between China, South Korea and Japan over relations with North Korea in the wake of the sinking of the South Korean ship the Cheonan, China has ignored pleas to censure Pyongyang. From Al Jazeera:
During a three-way summit that concluded on Sunday, both South Korea and Japan pressed China to hold Pyongyang responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan in March.
But Wen Jiaboao, the Chinese prime minister, gave no sign China is ready to back United Nations Security Council action against its ally over the sinking, that killed 46 South Korean sailors.
“The urgent task now is to defuse the impact of the Cheonan incident, change the tense situation and avoid clashes,” Wen told a joint press conference at the end of the summit.
See also a report from AFP and “South Korea Faces Domestic Skeptics Over Evidence Against North” from Bloomberg.
Update: The Washington Post has written an editorial about Beijing’s position on the Cheonan incident:
CHINA HAS BEEN treating its neighbors, and the world, to a demonstration of why its rising power is not necessarily to be welcomed. Though it has become undeniable that its neighbor and client, North Korea, committed an act of war by sinking a South Korean warship in March, Beijing continues to shield the loathsome regime of Kim Jong Il. An authoritative investigation by a multinational commission has produced fragments of the torpedo fired by the North’s submarine, yet Chinese officials continue to pretend they don’t know the facts of what happened. Their public statements are limited to empty calls for “restraint.”
…In the short term China’s behavior has benefited the United States. Watching Beijing defend the indefensible probably helped the Japanese government settle a dispute with the Obama administration over a U.S. base on Okinawa. It has shown South Koreans as well as people throughout Asia why the United States remains an indispensable guarantor of security in the region.
See also “U.S. ‘Urging China to Make Up Its Mind Over Cheonan’” from South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo.