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North Korean nuclear tests

China ‘may back’ new UN sanctions over North Korean missile test

Analysts say Beijing might want Pyongyang held accountable for increasing tensions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 10:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2017, 4:36am

China might support a new round of UN sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang launched another missile test just hours ­before Beijing held its biggest diplomatic event of the year, the belt and road forum, observers said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailed the launch on Sunday as a test of the “perfect weapon system” and capable of carrying “a large-size heavy ­nuclear warhead”.

North Korean ambassador to China Ji Jae-ryong also said Pyongyang’s ballistic missile test was part of the country’s efforts to develop ways to defend itself.

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At the request of the United States and Japan, the United Nations Security Council will convene an urgent session on Tuesday to discuss responses to test. The council has condemned all five of North Korea’s launches this year.

US President Donald Trump called for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the missile test was “dangerous” but added that Pyongyang was being intimidated.

Analysts said the UN Security Council would likely discuss new sanctions, with China possibly playing a role in their formation.

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China Foreign Affairs University international relations professor Su Hao said North Korea had “to be held accountable and pay the price” for violating UN resolutions. “This could also be an opportunity for China to show that it can initiate some plausible plans to handle the North Korea issue within the framework of the international community,” Su said.

Beijing has cited UN resolutions for all of its measures against North Korea. In February, Beijing banned imports of North Korean coal, its most important export.

Jin Meihua, from the Northeast Asia Research Centre in Jilin province, said: “North Korea must have somehow ­prepared for possible further sanctions before this latest test.”

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Lee Dong-ryul, from South Korea’s Dongduk Women’s University, said that as China’s influence on North Korea shrank, one of the few effective measures left in Beijing’s toolkit was cutting off its oil supply to North Korea. “But this would be the last measure China would want to ever use because the Chinese leaders fear the consequences would be too big to control, ” Lee said.

Additional reporting by Associated Press