Only one day after voting in favor of new sanctions to be imposed on Kim Jong-un’s North Korean regime, China’s state-owned media released a statement stressing the limits of the new restrictions, and once again emphasizing their position critical of the United States in the region.
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose new sanctions that would limit North Korea’s export market by as much as a third; slashing exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood believed to be worth as much as $3 billion to the North Korean economy. The resolution, which was drafted by the United States, came on the tail of two new missile tests, and received yes votes from both Russia and China, both of whom have been critical of the way the United States has handled tensions with the reclusive Asian state.
Sanctions to the greatest possible extent must avoid causing negative impacts to ordinary people and to third countries, and avoid bringing disaster to the country in question’s normal and legal trade and business exchanges with the outside world, people’s normal lives and the humanitarian situation,” a front-page column in the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper read on Sunday. “A precision blow is the essential part of sanctions.”
China, who serves as North Korea’s primary military ally and trade partner, has long claimed to seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula, but has failed to take any diplomatic action that might initiate actual change in Kim’s plans to assemble a fully functional nuclear arsenal. Chinese markets represent a whopping 90% of North Korean imports and exports, making them the only nation on Earth with enough leverage to force Kim’s hand.
President Trump, as well as other U.S. officials, have repeatedly called on China to exercise their influence over Kim Jong-un by limiting trade with his nation, strangling his government of the funding it needs to develop nuclear weapons and the missile platforms required to deliver them. China has responded by claiming the onus is not on them to initiate the change, instead criticizing the United States for conducting military exercises near the North Korea border, something they claim only increases tensions.
The West should be reminded to exercise restraint. If it believes it is only North Korea rather than the U.S. and South Korea as well to blame for the nuclear issue, this ill-fitting mindset will not help solve the crisis,” the state publication said. “The U.S. should aim for peace and co-existence rather than geopolitical dominance.”
China does, however, seem to acknowledge that Kim Jong-un’s nuclear pursuits have proven more trouble than they’re worth, despite their statements directed at the United States and its allies. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to North Korea’s top diplomat, Ri Yong Ho, at this weekend’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering, which was also attended by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Do not violate the U.N.’s decision or provoke international society’s goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests,” Wang said after his meeting with North Korea’s foreign minister. Wang, however, quickly added, “Of course, we would like to urge other parties like the U.S. and South Korea to stop increasing tensions.”
Image courtesy of the Department of Defense