China’s United Nations representative took a stern stance against North Korea’s most recent missile test at an emergency UN meeting Wednesday, and the nation’s foreign ministry is calling for an end to North Korean aggression after repeated barbs from President Donald Trump that Beijing is not doing enough to maintain peace in the region.
“China finds this launching unacceptable,” UN representative Liu Jieyi said Wednesday, according to the Chinese state news outlet Xinhua. “We strongly urge the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to strictly abide by the resolutions of the Security Council and put a stop to any rhetoric and action that might further exacerbate the tension on the Peninsula.”
“China has always insisted on realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula and seeking a solution through dialogue and consultation,” he added.
Liu maintained the official position of the Chinese government, which is that “all parties concerned,” including the United States, must “exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and flagrant rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue, and work actively together to defuse the tension.”
China usually means this as a demand that the United States cease to support allies like Japan and South Korea with joint military exercises. Liu also reiterated Chinese opposition to the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, designed to destroy any incoming North Korean missiles but capable of reaching deep into China and Russia.
Liu was responding to a missile test conducted on Tuesday, timed to coincide with America’s Independence Day. The North Korean government issued a statement claiming that the test was a successful attempt at launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the mainland United States. American officials stated that the missile appeared to be the most successful of its kind launched yet, though it may not reach as far as Pyongyang claimed.
Liu’s condemnation of North Korea was not enough for the United States to fail to condemn China once again for maintaining ties to the communist dictatorship. UN ambassador Nikki Haley noted during her remarks that trade with China represents 90 percent of North Korea’s trade in its entirety and warned that the United States would “not have the patience for stalling or talking our way down to a watered down resolution” with “any country that chooses to do business with this outlaw regime.”
President Donald Trump himself responded to the North Korean missile test by lamenting on Twitter, “so much for China working with us.” Prior to the nuclear test, the U.S. Treasury banned the Chinese Bank of Dandong from doing business with the United States over its ties to North Korea.
Liu’s remarks are not the only sign that China is losing its patience with the North Korean regime. On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in and, according to the state-run People’s Daily, emphasized the need for close bilateral ties.
“China and South Korea, two geographically close nations, share interconnected cultures and notable complementary advantages, Xi said, adding that the two sides have realized a leapfrog development in their relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties 25 years ago,” the People’s Daily reported.
While China’s state-run media did not report it as such, South Korea’s independent Yonhap news agency did say the two presidents “agreed Thursday to seek tougher sanctions on North Korea to pressure it to stop provocations.”
“The international community needs to induce North Korea to change its attitude through sanctions and pressure while at the same time continuing its efforts to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” Moon reportedly told Xi during their meeting, according to Yonhap.
Following the missile test, senior U.S. military officials asserted that they do not fear a war with North Korea, as the Pentagon is fully prepared for that possibility. “Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war. As this Alliance missile live fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our Alliance national leaders,” Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, said Wednesday.