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China endorses easing of tensions on Korean peninsula

By Elizabeth Shim
China endorses easing of tensions on Korean peninsula
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing welcomes talks between North and South Korea, following statements from Kim Jong Un and the South Korean government. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- China is welcoming news of détente between North and South Korea after the two sides agreed to re-establish contact after months of tensions.

State-owned news agency Xinhua said Wednesday the offer of dialogue from Kim Jong Un and the South's response are "positive signs."

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"At the beginning of the new year 2018, a positive signal has emerged from the Korean peninsula in a long time," the Xinhua editorial read. "It is hoped the Korean peninsula can come out of a frozen state" of tensions.

The Chinese news agency noted the easing of hostilities began quickly with Kim's New Year speech, which included a willingness to send the North Korean national team to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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Xinhua's editorial also gave high marks for South Korean President Moon Jae-in's positive response, and Seoul's proposal to hold high-level talks on Tuesday.

The editorial echoed similar statements from China's foreign ministry on Tuesday, welcoming potential talks.

"We have noticed active signals sent by leaders from North Korea and South Korea on improving ties and North Korea may participate in the Winter Olympic Games. This is a good thing. China welcomes and supports the two sides taking the opportunity to make efforts at improving ties, easing tensions on the peninsula and realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

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The next day, however, Geng was less welcoming of speculation Beijing had been offering secret assurances to North Korea, the South China Morning Post reported.

A report from the Washington Free Beacon, detailing alleged assurances the Chinese government would not allow North Korea to collapse while providing missile support, was dismissed as "fake news" on Wednesday.

"Anyone with common sense can see that the document [cited in the report] is fake," Geng said.

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Kim previously snubbed a senior Chinese envoy when he visited the North in November, and Pyongyang has condemned China for implementing international sanctions.

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