North Korea sanctions

China calls for peace talks to halt ‘vicious cycle’ in North Korean nuclear crisis

Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterates Beijing’s desire for dialogue in meeting with Russian counterpart to discuss situation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 September, 2017, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 September, 2017, 6:27pm

The vicious cycle facing the Korean peninsula was deepening and a resumption of peaceful dialogue was crucial to resolve the crisis, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Monday.

Wang made the remarks in talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

US President Donald Trump is expected to press China and Russia to exert more pressure to force North Korea to stop its nuclear ambitions.

China and Russia – both permanent members of the UN Security Council – voted for the new sanctions against North Korea last week, but they are both against tough measures that will topple Kim Jong-un’s regime and agreed to cooperate over the matter.

“The current deepening vicious cycle must be broken. Resuming peace talks is an equally important step in implementing Security Council resolutions,” Wang was quoted as saying in a Chinese foreign ministry statement.

China’s “suspension-for-suspension” proposal, whereby the United States and South Korea would agree to halt joint military drills while North Korea halted missile and nuclear tests, was a practical step to resolve the crisis, Wang said.

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Lavrov and Wang had discussed regional issues, with a focus on North Korea and Syria.

“The sides reiterated their common position that all the problems can be settled only by political and diplomatic means,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported, citing a statement from the nation’s foreign ministry.

Tensions in the region have continued to rise after North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Friday.

The US military staged bombing drills with South Korea on Monday, sending a pair of B-1B bombers and four F-35 fighters from Guam and Japan to join four South Korean F-15K fighters.

China and Russia also started joint naval drills off Vladivostok, in the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk to the north of Japan.

The White House said on Monday that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump spoke over the phone about keeping up the pressure on North Korea using economic sanctions imposed through the United Nations. The two leaders were committed to “maximising pressure” on North Korea, it said.

A senior White House official told reporters said Trump would be “extremely tough” on North Korea when he delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

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The US would focus on “outcomes, not ideologies”, and wanted to “work towards common goals with countries, not to dictate to them how to live, and not to dictate to them what kind of system of government they should have,” the official said.

The UN Security Council passed a new round of sanctions against North Korea last week, following Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, which restricted the regime’s oil supply and ban its textile exports.

Beijing has earlier said the root of the North Korea nuclear crisis was a conflict between Washington and Pyongyang, and urged the US to work towards resolving it.

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Liu Weidong, a US affairs expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China did not want to see Trump trying to use Sino-US trade ties as a bargaining chip to pressure Beijing to do more to rein in Pyongyang.

“The North Korea crisis is not the only important issue between the two countries. China also hopes the Trump administration doesn’t implement policies that damage Sino-US trade relations, since an all-out trade war would surely harm both parties,” he said.

Wang Yiwei, an international relations expert from Renmin University, said Beijing hoped to manage the North Korea crisis by working with Washington and avoid nuclear proliferation in the region.

“Beijing hopes to prevent a trade war with Washington and deal with trade and North Korea issues separately, but Washington wants to link the two issues together and demands Beijing to do more on North Korea by threatening trade relations with Beijing,” he said.