No deal with US on North Korea sanctions, says top Chinese envoy
Action against Pyongyang can come from UN only, not Beijing and Washington, says diplomat widely tipped to be next ambassador to the US
A senior Chinese diplomat who is poised to become China's next ambassador to the US said yesterday that Beijing and Washington have not struck a tentative deal on expanding sanctions on North Korea, describing a previous report as "inaccurate".
Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said on the sidelines of a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference panel discussion that "this [decision] is not between China and the United States … it's very inaccurate to say China and the United States have reached a deal on imposing sanctions on North Korea".
His remarks followed reports that an agreement between the US and China had paved the way for action by the 15-member UN Security Council to put North Korea under one of the toughest sanctions regimes ever ordered as a punishment for its February 12 nuclear bomb test.
But the hot-tempered North Korean government gave its response before details of the proposed sanctions were even formally released - threatening to pull out of the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean war.
China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday called for "calmness and restraint" after Pyongyang's threat to nullify the armistice, as spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged relevant parties to refrain from "taking any action that could escalate tensions".
Diplomats say the UN sanctions seek "pressure points" to further isolate North Korea, cut off the supply of luxuries to its leaders and hinder efforts to secure technology for nuclear bombs and long-range rockets.
The sanctions resolution specifically names jewellery, yachts, racing cars and other upmarket vehicles as luxury items that must not be sent to North Korea, one UN diplomat said.
The Security Council is expected to vote on the resolution today.
The resolution adds three new individuals and two new firms to a list subjected to travel bans and a freeze on overseas assets. It would also ban trade in components that could be used for uranium enrichment.
Special attention would now be paid to North Korean diplomats around the world, with the resolution targeting what the envoy called "whole new areas and entire new types of illicit behaviour by North Korea".
America's UN ambassador, Susan Rice said the resolution "will take the UN sanctions imposed on North Korea to the next level, breaking new ground and imposing significant new legal obligations".
Another senior UN diplomat said: "This is likely to make North Korea very mad, but the council had to act and it does have China on board."
However, Cui stressed that any deal would come from the Security Council.
Cui, who negotiated with US diplomats while blind activist Chen Guangcheng , received sanctuary in the US embassy last year, said he hoped Americans would grow more comfortable with China's development and respect its people.
Cui, 60, did not directly confirm he would become China's next ambassador in Washington, but he told Science Minister Wan Gang after the panel discussion that he would go to the US soon. He did not clarify the situation when a reporter asked how he would promote China after taking up the new post.
But he refrained from comparing himself with US counterpart Gary Locke, who has received much attention for his down-to-earth style.
When asked whether he would follow Locke's style, Cui said: "I won't comment on Locke. Bilateral ties won't be improved much, merely by some small individual acts."
Agence France-Presse, Reuters