North Korea is getting pressure from its one and only ally, China, to tone down its latest blustery rhetoric and not to conduct a planned space launch or possible nuclear test.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking at an academic forum on the future of North Korea talks, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We call on all sides to adopt a responsible attitude toward the peninsula as well as the region of northeast Asia, and never again take any new action that could lead to tensions in the situation there.”
Pyongyang has called for a resumption of talks on its nuclear program, but the United States and South Korea have asked for actions that demonstrate the North is sincere.
The Associated Press quotes North Korea’s government-run Minju Joson newspaper as writing on Saturday that the U.S. and South Korea were making “frantic efforts” to stop the North from conducting a satellite launch and a nuclear test, and that such reactions were an “unforgivable” provocation against the country’s sovereignty.
Reuters adds: “North Korean officials have signaled that they could mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers Party on Oct. 10 with a satellite launch, and announced a restart of atomic-fuel plants that prompted speculation that North Korea is preparing for its fourth nuclear test explosion. Either a nuclear test or a satellite launch would violate U.N. resolutions, the latter because the rocket technology needed can also be used to develop long-range missiles.”
China has been increasingly critical of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions in recent years and tensions between the allies have been evident. In 2013, the North dispatched a special envoy to patch things up.
And, last year, Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited South Korea but didn’t stop in the North in a move that was seen as a snub to Kim Jong Un, who has yet to visit China since taking over the regime from his deceased father in 2011.
Admiral Harry Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that he was concerned that “China’s influence on North Korea is waning, or China does not have the influence on North Korea that it had in the past.”
Meanwhile, the AP reports that South Korea says it will move ahead with plans for a reunion of families split by the 1950-53 Korean War despite the threats of rocket launches and nuclear tests: “South Korean officials have hinted they will try to proceed with planned Oct. 20-26 reunions at North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort even if the North launches a satellite before then.”