Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Chinese government officials are welcoming news of the postponement of U.S.-South Korea military exercises following a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
But at least one Beijing official is layering the latest development with his own interpretation of the postponement.
South Korean news service News 1 reported Friday that Kong Xuanyou, China's special representative for Korean peninsula affairs, spoke highly of the postponement, then said the delay is "actually a freeze-for-freeze," referring to a Chinese proposal to de-escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Beijing has repeatedly called for an agreement between the United States and North Korea, under which Pyongyang eventually freezes its nuclear program and the United States ceases to hold drills on the peninsula.
Describing the deferred drills as a "positive element," the Chinese six-party talks representative told his South Korea counterpart Lee Do-hoon China supports the suspension for specific reasons.
"This is actually a freeze-for-freeze and will have a positive impact on the situation in the Korean peninsula, while steering [developments] in a safe direction," Kong said Friday.
Kong also wished Seoul a successful Winter Olympics, and said he hoped "spring will come to the Korean peninsula."
"We must welcome with open arms North Korea's willingness to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics," Kong said.
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry said it is "undoubtedly good news" Seoul and Washington agreed to hold back on drills.
"As a close neighbor, China welcomes and supports active efforts to improve North-South relations," said ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, Yonhap reported Friday.
According to the White House on Thursday following the phone call, Trump and Moon agreed to "de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that the United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games," but to also "continue the campaign of maximum pressure" against North Korea.