Wednesday, March 08, 2017

China Urges US, North Korea to Avert Crisis
Global Times

Chinese FM calls on Pyongyang to halt nuclear activities

China warned Wednesday that North Korea and the US were like two trains racing toward a "head-on collision," calling on both sides to apply the brakes and avert a security crisis.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's warning came after a cascade of events that has sent regional tensions soaring, including provocative North Korean missile tests and annual US-South Korean wargames that infuriate Pyongyang.

Beijing is particularly concerned over an US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being rolled out in South Korea, which Wang said also "undermines China's strategic security."

He called on North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the US and South Korea halting the military exercises.

"The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way," Wang said at a press conference on the sidelines of China's annual parliament session.

"The question is: are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains."

Pyongyang blasted at least four missiles on Monday, three of which splashed down in waters within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, saying they were tests for a possible strike on US bases in Japan.

Wang said China's proposal could help bring the US and North Korea back to negotiations on ending Pyongyang's weapons programs.

But it mirrors past North Korean offers that were rejected by the US, which said Pyongyang had no right to demand concessions in return for abiding by UN resolutions.

Six sets of UN sanctions since Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.

Wang continued China's hammering of the THAAD system, repeating Beijing's "strong opposition" and calling on Seoul to "cease and desist."

The UN Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned the launches as a "grave violation" of its resolutions barring North Korea from developing missile technology, and denounced Pyongyang's "increasingly destabilizing behavior."

It vowed further measures. An emergency council meeting has been called for Wednesday.

North Korea slammed the Security Council statement as a "brigandish act like a thief crying 'stop thief!'", according to its official news agency.

Citing a foreign ministry spokesperson, it said the Security Council had "wantonly violated a sovereign state's right to self-defense."

Since the launches, US President Donald Trump has reiterated Washington's "iron-clad commitment" to Japanese and South Korean security and threatened with "very dire consequences" for Pyongyang.

The US State Department said Wednesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Japan, South Korea and China starting next week, his first trip to the region, with talks to focus on the North Korean "threat."

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