Author: Liu Caiyu and Yang Sheng
Posted on: Global Times, April 11th, 2017
China urged related parties to exercise restraint toward North Korea, as South Korea and the US make intense military preparations for fear of new nuclear and missile tests from North Korea.
“We believe that, given the current situation, all relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may escalate tensions,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Monday.
Hua made the remarks after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the recent military strike against Syria posed a potential warning to North Korea, and the Carl Vinson Strike Group canceled its trip to Australia and sailed toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula.
China also sent Wu Dawei, the Chinese special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, to South Korea on a four-day trip. Wu has met with his counterpart Kim Hong-kyun in Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday.
According to the Yonhap report, the two sides reached an agreement on Monday to take new measures in line with UN resolutions if North Korea conducts new nuclear and missile tests.
Wu also reaffirmed that China opposes unilateral sanctions against North Korea that bypass the UN, Yonhap’s Korean language service reported.
There is no official confirmation from China about the agreement.
The Yonhap report said concerns are growing that North Korea may carry out its sixth nuclear test and launch an intercontinental ballistic missile this month.
If North Korea conducts a new nuclear test, it will leave China with limited choices, and the meeting has sent a signal to North Korea, said Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Studies Center at Yanbian University.
Wu’s visit is also aimed at reassuring South Korea, hoping it does not play a role in increasing regional tensions, said Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.
Meanwhile, Wu’s visit also symbolized China’s intent to seek a breakthrough and solve the row over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Jin said.
Wu also reaffirmed China’s strong opposition to THAAD in his meeting with Kim, Yonhap reported.
The THAAD issue is now being reexamined by South Koreans, Lü said.
“If the THAAD problem is solved, relations between China and South Korea would improve. But if North Korea does something at this particular time, such as another nuclear test, the situation would spin out of control,” Lü added.