Beijing: Beijing sought to deflect the pressure that the US has been ramping up on it over North Korea’s nuclear tests on Monday, saying China does not have the ability to make Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons programme. It also said a sixth North Korean nuclear test may not be far away if the US continued to behave the way it has in recent times.
Statements by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson and government-run media sought to blame the US for giving North Korea the drive to develop nuclear weapons. The statements have come in response to US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s comments that it was China’s responsibility to reverse the nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The aim of Carter’s remarks seems to be a bid to escalate pressure on Beijing to exercise influence over North Korea, considering China is Pyongyang’s economic lifeline.
The US government-run Radio Free Asia had reported recently that North Korea was awash with Chinese investments. Chinese media reports have also said trade with China amounts to about 70 per cent of North Korea’s entire trade. Other reports have said these trade links render economic sanctions on North Korea ineffective.
However, China seems to be in mood to bend to this round of pressure from the US. “Whoever started the trouble should end it,” declared Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, effectively blaming the US for Pyongyang’s aggressive world view. “I think the US should go over the process of the development of the nuclear issue and earnestly work on a tangible and effective resolution,” she added.
Chinese media predictably toed the government line, saying the US had pushed Pyongyang into conducting its fifth nuclear test by deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) advanced missile defence system. Chinese media have for weeks targeted the THAAD deployment as intended to pressure China, but have now blamed it for North Korea’s actions.
“The US has never thought of solving North Korea’s nuclear issue, as it would be too complicated for it,” read an editorial in the Chinese government-run Global Times.
“China is not capable of persuading North Korea to give up nuclear development, because China’s efforts are not supported by the others. Washington has been refusing to sign a peace treaty with Pyongyang,” it added.
The paper also characterized the issue as one that was between Pyongyang on one side and the ‘Washington-Seoul’ alliance on the other. “For years, the US has contributed little to easing the situation in the Korean Peninsula. The Americans have given no consideration to the origin and the evolution of North Korea’s nuclear issue or the negative role Washington has been playing over the years,” it said.
“South Korea has been brainwashed by such American-style mentality and believes that if China imposes heavier sanctions on North Korea, the latter’s nuclear issue could be addressed. Seoul has also strengthened military pressure against its northern neighbor relentlessly. If the two engage in such tit-for-tat menace, North Korea’s sixth nuclear test may not be far,” the editorial declared.