N. Korea's missile launch unrelated to Xi's visit to Seoul: China
BEIJING, June 30 (Yonhap) -- China insisted Monday that North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch has no link to a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to South Korea, apparently trying to quell media speculation that the launch might be intended as a show of force ahead of Xi's visit to Seoul.
North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea on Sunday, marking the second such test-launch in recent days, four days before Xi makes a state visit to South Korea for summit talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Media reports speculated that the launch might have been aimed at demonstrating its displeasure over Xi's visit to Seoul. It will be the first time in more than two decades for a sitting Chinese president to visit South Korea before traveling to North Korea, a close ally of China.
Asked about the media speculation, China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei replied, "As for whether it is related to President Xi Jinping's visit (to South Korea), I don't see any relation to it."
"China is a friendly neighbor to both South Korea and North Korea and maintains frequent exchanges at all levels with both countries," Hong said.
Hong urged "all parties" to make efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
"We hope that, under the current circumstances, all parties can make efforts to defuse tensions and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Hong said.
Some analysts say Xi's visit to South Korea and absence of a visit to North Korea as Chinese president represent a change in China's balance of power on the Korean Peninsula.
Xi first visited Pyongyang in 2008 when he was vice president.
Kim Jong-un, who took over North Korea in 2011 after the sudden death of his father and long-time leader Kim Jong-il, has yet to be invited to Beijing.
Park has met with Xi four times since they took office in 2013.