China Calls For UNSC Prudence on North Korea

As trade between China and North Korea increases despite tensions over North Korea’s satellite launch, China is calling for the United Nations Security Council to ‘react calmly’ over North Korea’s recent rocket launch, from The Global Times:

“China maintains that the Security Council’s reaction should be prudent and moderate, and that it should work for the peace and stability of the (Korean) Peninsula and avoid the progressive escalation of tensions,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing on Monday.

Hong said China has repeatedly expressed its position on the satellite launches, stressing regret over the issue. “Based on such a stance, China has constructively participated in the recent UNSC negotiations,” Hong said in response to reports that the UNSC is likely to pass a resolution on North Korea’s satellite launch.

“China and the US have many differences in principles over dealing with the satellite launch. That’s why the UN negotiations have lasted for more than a month,” said Shi Yuanhua, a researcher on Korean studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University.

The US wanted to impose new sanctions against North Korea, while China wants to issue a statement to expand the existing UN sanctions, Reuters said.

While Chinese state media is calling for the UNSC to be prudent, diplomats at the UN say China and the US have reach a deal that would tighten sanctions on North Korea. The Voice of America reports:

The diplomats say the U.S. circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member U.N. Security Council. It could vote as early as Tuesday to punish North Korea for the launch.

They say the resolution would condemn the launch and expand existing sanctions. But it is not clear if it would add any new sanctions – a step that China, Pyongyang’s only major ally, has been reluctant to accept.

Washington has been pushing Beijing to accept strong measures following the rocket launch, which was widely condemned as a disguised missile test banned under U.N. Sanctions.

China, which has previously agreed to U.N. sanctions against North Korea, has said it wants the Security Council to take a “cautious” approach that will not further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Aside from the UNSC resolution, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China does not support North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Yang made these remarks at a meeting with a delegation sent by South Korea’s President-elect, Park Geun-hye, from Yonhap News Agency:

According to Shim Yoon-joe, a member of the delegation, Yang praised Park’s so-called “Korean Peninsula trust process,” which states that if the North accepts denuclearization, large-scale international economic projects will be pursued in the communist country to help restore inter-Korean relations.

During the meeting, the delegation made clear that South Korea will not tolerate the North’s nuclear ambitions, but that they believe it is very important to build trust through dialogue with the communist nation.

Commenting on Beijing’s relations with Seoul, Yang said that China considers its relations with South Korea “very” important and that he expects bilateral ties to further grow under the new leaders in both countries, according to the delegation.

“I believe South Korea under Park’s leadership will achieve its growth targets of the new era,” Yang was quoted as saying during a meeting with the delegation. “South Korea is very important to China, and our strategic relations will develop into a new stage and take a big leap down the road.”

According to The Guardian, China may block Korean unification. The report was released by US senate Republican staff members that claimed Beijing would assert territorial claims over Pyongyang. This comes amid China’s claims over the South China Sea and Diaoyu islands:

The report was released last month with little fanfare, but North Korea watchers say it gives voice to an increasingly popular but still-sensitive sentiment: that China will ultimately try to prevent the South from absorbing the North, the long-assumed post-collapse scenario.

China might act with similar aggression in North Korea, the report argues, to “safeguard its own commercial assets, and to assert its right to preserve the northern part of the peninsula within China’s sphere of influence”.

The report was written primarily by Keith Luse, an east Asia specialist who worked as an aide for the recently defeated Republican senator Dick Lugar, who had been a member of the Senate committee on foreign relations with a long-standing interest in North Korea. The minority staff report, Luse said in an email, was written to inform committee members – including John Kerry, nominated by Barack Obama as the next secretary of state – “to not expect an East-West Germany repeat situation” regarding unification between the Koreas.

“Anybody who is a serious analyst can’t discount this as a plausible scenario,” said Victor Cha, the Korea chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, referring to the general argument of the report.

From a US perspective, Cha said, the greatest concern is how poorly prepared other countries are to deal with – and co-operate during – a crisis in North Korea. Beijing has no interest in planning with Washington and Seoul, thinking such talks too sensitive. And Seoul worries that such talks would cause tensions with Beijing to spike.

Read more about China’s relations with North Korea, via CDT.

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