China warns against force in North Korea
Military force can’t resolve tension over North Korea, China says, while an influential Chinese newspaper urged the North to halt its nuclear program in exchange for Chinese protection.
Concerns have been growing that North Korea could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of UN sanctions and stark warnings from the United States that a policy of patience was over.
With a US aircraft carrier group steaming to the area in a show of force and tensions rising, fears of a confrontation have been rising.
China, North Korea’s sole major ally and neighbour, which nevertheless opposes its weapons program, has called for talks leading to a peaceful resolution and the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
“Military force cannot resolve the issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”
While US President Donald Trump has put North Korea on notice that he would not tolerate any provocation, US officials have said his administration was focusing its strategy on tougher economic sanctions.
Trump said on Thursday Pyongyang was a problem that “will be taken care of” and that he believed Chinese President Xi Jinping would “work very hard” to help resolve the challenge.
Trump has also said the United States is prepared to tackle the crisis without China, if necessary.
The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group was diverted towards the Korean peninsula last weekend in a show of force to try to deter North Korea from conducting another nuclear test or launching more missiles to coincide with important events and anniversaries.
Scores of foreign journalists are gathered in Pyongyang for North Korea’s biggest national day, the “Day of the Sun”, marking he 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung on Saturday.
They were taken to what officials billed as a “big and important event” early on Thursday which turned out to be the opening of a new street in the centre of the capital, attended by current leader Kim Jong Un.