Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned Friday that North Korea and the United States must end the tense status quo of their relationship before it reaches an “irreversible and unmanageable stage,” suggesting China is willing to play a part in making this happen.
“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Wang reportedly said at a press conference, according to Reuters.
The state-run Xinhua posted a longer version of his remarks, although they did not note the statement Reuters published. Instead, the official government write-up of the remarks emphasizes Wang’s desire to see America “refrain from inflammatory or threatening statements or deeds” as well as the North Korean government.
“There has been heightened tension between the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This precarious situation deserves our attention and concern,” Wang reportedly noted. “If war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, multiple parties will lose and no one will win.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang appeared to echo Wang’s warning – an indication China considers war between North Korea and America an imminent threat – during a regular press conference Friday. “Given the complexity and delicacy of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, we have urged all parties on many occasions to remain calm, exercise restraint and refrain from actions that may escalate the tension,” he told reporters.
Unlike Wang, Geng was clear in condemning the North Korean nuclear program as a violation of international law, independent of any chiding of the United States: “The DPRK-related resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council have made clear that the DPRK should give up all its nuclear programs and stop all related activities. That’s very clear in the resolutions.”
Since President Xi Jinping arrived in Florida for in-person talks with President Donald Trump this month, the Chinese government appears to have begun taking a more hard-line stance against North Korea’s increasingly belligerent behavior.
China has begun implementing U.N. sanctions, rejecting a shipment of North Korean coal last week, and placing 150,000 troops on the China-North Korean border. President Trump said following his meeting with Xi that he considers ending the tensions on the Korean peninsula necessary in the near future, and that he was willing to negotiate with Xi in order to get China to cooperate with him.
“You want to make a great deal? Solve the problem in North Korea,” Trump said he told Xi. “That’s worth having deficits. And that’s worth having not as good a trade deal as I would normally be able to make.”
North Korea is preparing to celebrate the “Day of the Sun” – the birthday of founder Kim Il-Sung – on Saturday. Reuters notes that North Korean state media has escalated its threats towards the Trump administration in light of the holiday.
“The army and people of the DPRK will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and will always mercilessly ravage all provocative options of the U.S. with Korean-style toughest counteraction,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warned, citing North Korean officials.