China agrees to support U.N. sanctions against North Korea

China’s position on North Korea, however, remains a sensitive issue for Beijing.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 15, 2016 at 10:14 AM
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BEIJING, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- South Korea and China agreed on the need for close consultation with the United Nations Security Council regarding sanctions against North Korea, but differing views prevailed over China's role in the matter.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Hwang Joon-kook, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, said his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei said he would work closely with Seoul on the current situation, and that there is a need to work on a resolution that imposes new sanctions, South Korean outlet News 1 reported.

China's position on North Korea, however, remains a sensitive issue for Beijing.

South Korean television network MBC reported China maintains new sanctions are sufficient to bring North Korea back to negotiations at the six-party talks, a view that contrasts with the position of the United States, South Korea and Japan.

The three allies have called for more powerful and comprehensive sanctions that could penalize individuals and entities responsible for Pyongyang's growing nuclear program.

China's state-owned Global Times stated in an editorial Friday that while Beijing is likely to commit to sanctions supported by the international community, it would be "difficult to say new variables" would arise from elevating the level of sanctions.

The Chinese state outlet also chided South Korea for "blindly following" the United States and for "showing discontent" toward Beijing.

South Korea "thinks as if the golden key to solving the North Korean nuclear problems lies in the hands of China," the statement read, adding the China-North Korea alliance is nothing like the U.S.-South Korea relationship.

But Beijing remains staunchly opposed to nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Friday Beijing is to support U.N. sanctions in response to the North's fourth nuclear test, but with an eye toward denuclearization and defending the peace and stability of the region.

A Chinese defense official in Seoul reiterated the support for sanctions, pointing the tests were in violation of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement agreed upon during the six-party talks in Beijing.

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