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(2nd LD) (News Focus) China resists calls to ramp up pressure on N. Korea

2016/01/09 15:50

(ATTN: CORRECTS quote in para 8)

BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- China has resisted calls by South Korea, the United States and Japan to put more pressure on North Korea, while the U.N. Security Council agreed to swiftly push for new sanctions against the North's fourth nuclear test.

To ensure the effectiveness of any tougher sanctions against North Korea, the world sees the role of China, which keeps the North's moribund economy afloat, as more significant.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China to end "business as usual" with Pyongyang, saying that the North's latest nuclear test proved China's approach to the North "has not worked."

   When asked about the remarks by Kerry, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying replied on Friday, "China is not the cause and crux of the Korean nuclear issue, nor is it the key to resolving the problem."

   The rare public acknowledgment by a Chinese official that Beijing holds no "key" to curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions again demonstrated China's self-contradictory stance on North Korea.

Many analysts believe that China's Communist Party leadership won't put enough pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions because a sudden collapse of the North's regime could threaten China's own security interests.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un went ahead with the fourth nuclear test because it will not cause China to abandon the North, said Kim Hwan-suk, a senior analyst at the Seoul-based Institute for National Security Strategy.

"North Korea used brinkmanship because it knows that China won't abandon North Korea, given its strategic value," Kim said. "North Korea does not expect China to fully join sanctions against the North by the U.N. Security Council."

   Two days after North Korea's nuclear test, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a telephone discussion on Friday night about how to deal with the North's test.

Yun urged China to "sternly punish" North Korea for carrying out the nuclear test, but Wang repeated China's long-standing position on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Although China has said it was "firmly opposed" to North Korea's nuclear test, China's state-run media have blamed the U.S. for the current nuclear crisis.

In a commentary, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said, "The U.S.'s combative approach has in effect deepened Pyongyang's sense of insecurity and prompted the country to go further in challenging non-proliferation restrictions."

   "The Western media and some politicians have piled blame on China for failing to halt the DPRK's nuclear program," the Xinhua commentary said, using an acronym for North Korea's official name.

"But any hasty conclusion to identify China as the crux of the ongoing nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula is as absurd as it is irresponsible," it said.

Another state-run newspaper published by China's ruling Communist Party also blamed what it calls a "hostile policy" by South Korea, the United States and Japan towards North Korea for the North's fourth nuclear test.

In an editorial, the state-run Global Times newspaper appeared to defend North Korea's defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons, saying there will be "no hope" for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions unless South Korea, the U.S. and Japan change their policy toward the North.

"There is no hope to put an end to the North Korean nuclear conundrum if the U.S., South Korea and Japan do not change their policies toward Pyongyang," the editorial reads. "Solely depending on Beijing's pressure to force the North to give up its nuclear plan is an illusion."

   Lu Chao, a research fellow of Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times newspaper on Saturday that North Korea has developed nuclear weapons because of a "hostile policy" by the U.S. against the North.

kdh@yna.co.kr

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