Wel­come boost from China to global pres­sure on North Korea

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

A global pres­sure cam­paign on North Korea pro­pelled by sharp new UN sanc­tions re­ceived a wel­come boost Sun­day from China, the North’s eco­nomic life­line, as Bei­jing called on its neigh­bour to halt its mis­sile and nu­clear tests.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion cau­tiously em­braced China’s ap­par­ent new­found co-op­er­a­tion, while putting it on no­tice that the U.S. would be watch­ing closely to en­sure it didn’t ease up on North Korea if and when the world’s at­ten­tion is di­verted else­where. But there were no signs the U.S. would ac­qui­esce to China’s call for a quick re­turn to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The diplo­matic wran­gling sought to build on the sweep­ing new North Korea sanc­tions passed by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil a day ear­lier — the strong­est in a gen­er­a­tion, the U.S. said. As diplo­mats gath­ered in the Philip­pines for an an­nual re­gional meet­ing, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was cheer­ing the move. He cited the “very big fi­nan­cial im­pact’’ of the sanc­tions and noted op­ti­misti­cally that both China and Rus­sia had joined in the unan­i­mous vote.

“It was a good out­come,’’ U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said in char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally un­der­stated fash­ion.

For the U.S., it was a lon­gawaited sign of progress for Trump’s strat­egy of try­ing to en­list Bei­jing’s help to squeeze North Korea diplo­mat­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally. Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi, meet­ing with North Korea’s top diplo­mat dur­ing the gath­er­ing in Manila, urged the North to “main­tain calm’’ de­spite the UN vote.

“Do not vi­o­late the UN’s de­ci­sion or pro­voke in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety’s goodwill by con­duct­ing mis­sile launch­ing or nu­clear tests,’’ Wang said, in an un­usu­ally di­rect ad­mo­ni­tion.

Tiller­son did not meet with North Korea’s en­voy, Ri Yong Ho. In fact, on his first day in Manila, Tiller­son ap­peared to go out of his way to avoid cross­ing paths with Ri.

Though Bei­jing re­peated its call for the United States and North Korea to re­sume talks, the U.S. said that was still pre­ma­ture, and re­jected yet again a Chi­nese call for the U.S. to freeze joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea in ex­change for the North halt­ing nu­clear de­vel­op­ment. Py­ongyang views the mil­i­tary ex­er­cises as re­hearsals for an in­va­sion.

The U.S. also warned it planned to rig­or­ously mon­i­tor China’s com­pli­ance with the new penal­ties. Su­san Thorn­ton, the top U.S. diplo­mat for Asia, said Bei­jing had his­tor­i­cally co­op­er­ated with sanc­tions after fla­grant North Korean vi­o­la­tions but then slipped back over time.

“We want to make sure China is con­tin­u­ing to im­ple­ment fully the sanc­tions regime,’’ Thorn­ton told re­porters in Manila. “Not this kind of episodic back and forth that we’ve seen.’’

In­fus­ing the diplo­matic gath­er­ing with dra­matic in­trigue was the pres­ence of Ri, the odd man out at a meet­ing dom­i­nated by con­cerns about his na­tion’s nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion. In­deed, the U.S. was float­ing a pro­posal to tem­po­rar­ily kick North Korea out of the 27-mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions Re­gional Fo­rum, al­though other mem­ber na­tions are di­vided about that idea.

In this photo pro­vided by South Korea De­fense Min­istry, South Korea’s Hyun­moo II Mis­sile sys­tem, left, and a U.S. Army Tac­ti­cal Mis­sile Sys­tem, right, fire mis­siles dur­ing a com­bined mil­i­tary ex­er­cise be­tween the two coun­tries against North Korea at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion in South Korea last month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.