China is urging all parties in the Korean standoff to stay calm and “stop irritating each other,” a day after North Korea accused the United States of pushing the region to the brink of nuclear war, Reuters reports.
North Korea’s state media published a rare, strong, criticism of China on Wednesday, saying Chinese state media commentaries calling for tougher sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear program were undermining relations with Beijing and worsening tensions.
The United States has urged China, North Korea’s only major ally, to do more to rein in its neighbor’s nuclear and missile programs, which have prompted an assertive response from the Trump administration, warning that an “era of strategic patience” is over.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that Washington was working on more sanctions against North Korea if Pyongyang takes steps that merit a new response. He also warned other countries their firms could face so-called secondary sanctions for doing illicit business with Pyongyang.
Tillerson said the Trump administration had been “leaning hard into China … to test their willingness to use their influence, their engagement with the regime.”
Diplomats said this week Washington was negotiating with China on a possible stronger UN Security Council response — such as new sanctions — to North Korea’s missile tests.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday UN resolutions were clear that further measures would be taken in the event of more nuclear or missile tests.
The United States has sent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Korean waters and a pair of strategic U.S. bombers flew training drills with South Korea and Japan in another show of strength this week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the situation “highly complex” and sensitive.
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