China reconfirmed its stance that the United Nations Security Council’s additional sanctions on North Korea for the third nuclear test should not compromise the peace and stability in the Korean peninsula. With Chinese news channels insisting on an appropriate level of sanctions as well instead of the tight restrictions called for by the United States, South Korea and so on, experts are expecting that China will take sides with the North again during the discussion of the sanctions to be in confrontation with the other member nations.
Hong Lei, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, said on February 18 that the discussions at the United Nations Security Council have to be helpful for the peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and non-proliferation in general. “The Chinese government has already clarified its stern stance with regard to the recent nuclear test conducted by North Korea,” he said at the regular ministry briefing on that day, which was the first one after the test.
“We’re communicating closely with other nations regarding how to respond to the situation, agreeing on the principle that the international response should be cool-headed not to worsen the situation further in view of the complexity of the circumstances,” he said, continuing, “There are some media reports that North Korea will carry out a couple of more nuclear tests within this year or launch additional long-range missiles, but we don’t know where such reports came from.”
The spokesperson’s remarks are considered as a strong opposition to hard-liners demanding North Korea policy change. These days, some Chinese media channels are claiming that the Chinese government should review its policy with the North having infringed on its key interests.
However, the Xinhua News Agency came up with a different opinion on February 16 by reporting, “Military force and sanctions cannot make North Korea surrender and the root cause of the nuclear issue lies in the security threats the United States is imposing on North Korea.” The Global Times echoed two days later by publishing an article titled “China Has to Maintain an Appropriate Level in Taking Part in the Sanctions on North Korea.” The gist is that the restrictions should not be as strong as what is demanded by the United States and South Korea.
In the meantime, the European Union agreed on that day on comprehensive sanctions against the North’s nuclear test. The participants in the EU foreign ministers meeting held in Brussels came to an agreement regarding the financial and trade sanctions, asset freeze, travel restriction measures, etc.