Obama Urges China to Rein in N. Korea

As China expresses concern over North Korea’s plan to launch missiles, President Barack Obama urged China to increase it’s influence over North Korea. While Seoul and Washington believe that the missile launch is a facade for nuclear missile testing, Pyeongyang, however, claims that they are putting a satellite into orbit. Reuters reports:

Obama said Beijing’s actions of “rewarding bad behavior (and) turning a blind eye to deliberate provocations” were obviously not working, and he promised to raise the matter at a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Seoul on Monday.

“I believe that China is very sincere that it does not want to see North Korea with a nuclear weapon,” he told a news conference in Seoul before a global summit on nuclear security. “But it is going to have to act on that interest in a sustained way.”

It was Obama’s sharpest message yet to China to use its clout with North Korea in a nuclear standoff with the West, and dovetails with recent calls for Beijing to meet its responsibilities as a rising world power.

Obama said he was sympathetic to China’s concerns that too much pressure on North Korea could create a refugee crisis on its borders, but insisted Beijing’s approach over the decades had failed to achieve a “fundamental shift” in Pyongyang’s behavior.

Obama’s statement, which was delivered at Hankuk University in Seoul, comes amid claims that he does not take a strong enough stance on China. The Associated Press reports:

Trying to muscle North Korea toward peace over provocation, President Barack Obama is broadening his squeeze play from the heart of this tensely divided peninsula, pressuring China to show more influence and warning North Korea that it is headed toward a crippling “dead end” of isolation.

Obama will also try to build diplomatic force by turning to China, North Korea’s main ally, when he meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao. That conversation is among a flurry of engagements for Obama, including a final meeting with departing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, on the sidelines of a major Nuclear Security Summit.

Obama then set some blunt expectations for China, questioning how much it was helping to ease tensions with North Korea by turning a “blind eye to deliberate provocations.”

“That’s obviously not working,” Obama said. He said he did not doubt China shares the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free North Korea, but that it had to act on that.

See more on China’s relations with North Korea via CDT.

March 25, 2012 4:49 PM
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