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(Yonhap Interview) China has no ability to stop N. Korea's rocket launch: Beijing expert
SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- China is trying to use its relationship with North Korea to persuade the communist country to abandon its plan of launching a long-range rocket this month, but Beijing has "no such ability" to prevent the launch, a Beijing expert at a state-run think tank said Tuesday.

  
Teng Jianqun, a security expert at the China Institute of International Studies, made the remarks as South Korea is rallying international pressure to press North Korea to abandon the planned launch, condemned by Seoul, Washington and others as a veiled test of banned ballistic missile technology, although the North insists that it is aimed at putting what it calls a "working satellite" into orbit.

   "No, we have no such capability to stop the launch of a satellite by the DPRK (North Korea)," Teng told Yonhap News Agency in an interview in Seoul, asked whether China can exercise enough influence to convince the North to cancel the planned launch.

   "It's a domestic affair and it is our principle of no intervention in domestic affairs, especially for North Korea," Teng said on the sidelines of a security forum hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

   "North Korea is a very sensitive country and this is a long-standing policy or heritage from the former great leader Kim Jong-il," said the former officer of China's People's Liberation Army.

   Teng said North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, appears to have no choice but to continue to pursue the communist state's missile and nuclear programs, the only standing legacy of his late father.

   "So, the new great leader continues the policy, the project of his father, Kim Jong-il," Teng said. "He can not change it."

   Teng said China's influence on North Korea has been limited since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the normalization of diplomatic ties with South Korea two decades ago.

   "These two events directly impacted and sharply reduced China's influence toward North Korea," Teng said.

   On Monday, North Korea extended the time frame for the launch by one week to Dec. 29, citing technical problems with the first stage of its rocket, but is "pushing forward" with preparations that are "in the final phase."

   South Korea and the U.S. are committed to closely coordinating with regional allies and powers, especially those involved in the now-suspended six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

   If diplomacy fails, Seoul and Washington said they will seek U.N. actions, indicating that the hard-line communist country currently under punitive U.N. sanctions for its previous nuclear missile activities would face even tougher sanctions.

   Many analysts are skeptical whether China, a key ally of North Korea, would support new U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

   kdh@yna.co.kr
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