Beijing: China called on the US to shoulder more responsibility in tackling North Korea’s rogue nuclear programme on Friday, slapping down claims by President Donald Trump that Beijing could bring the isolated state to heel.
North Korea defied the world last week with a missile test and is suspected of orchestrating the stunning assassination a day later of supreme leader Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother in Malaysia, provocative acts that followed a nuclear test in September.
Beijing, often the target of US criticism for not doing enough to rein in its irascible neighbour, hit out at Trump’s suggestion in an interview with Reuters on Thursday that China could rein in North Korea “very easily” if it wanted to.
“The crux of the Korean nuclear issue lies with the differences between the DPRK and the United States,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Friday at a regular press briefing.
He urged Washington and Pyongyang to “shoulder their due responsibilities and play their due roles and work together with China to maintain stability” and denuclearise the peninsula.
China shares US concerns about Pyongyang obtaining a nuclear weapon, but prefers negotiations to sanctions, which it fears could destabilise North Korea and send a flood of refugees across their shared border.
Beijing’s recent snap decision to halt North Korean coal imports — a key economic lifeline for the isolated regime — has been seen as an attempt to defuse criticism and nudge North Korea and the US toward negotiations.
The UN Security Council has imposed six sets of sanctions since Pyongyang first tested an atomic device in 2006.
But North Korea has continued to thumb its nose at the world with a series of missile launches over the years and two nuclear tests in 2016 alone.
China also responded Friday to Trump’s remarks to Reuters that Chinese are “grand champions” of currency manipulation, saying authorities had “no intention” to gain trade advantages by devaluing the yuan and pledged to keep a stable exchange rate.
“If you want to label China as a grand champion, indeed China is a grand champion — but we are a grand champion in economic development,” said spokesman Geng, trumpeting the country’s swift growth over the last thirty years.