Beijing on Monday called for North Korea and the U.S. to resolve the current diplomatic impasse by meeting each other “halfway”, adding the two sides need to establish a “peace regime.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the comments in response to a pointed question which accused Washington of having a “selfish and arrogant approach.”
“It is China’s consistent position that the Korean Peninsula issue can only be resolved peacefully through political dialogue,” Kang said.
“Steps must be taken in a phased and synchronized fashion as part of a package solution, starting with the easier tasks and advancing progressively. The key is to accommodate all parties’ legitimate concerns in a balanced way.”
Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington broke down during a summit in Hanoi in late February, with the two sides disagreeing over the rollback of sanctions and the DPRK’s nuclear sites.
While Washington has said it will not ease sanctions until North Korea denuclearizes, other countries in the region have called for a step-by-step approach that would see some multilateral restrictions eased in exchange for North Korea dismantling part of its nuclear program.
“We hope the DPRK and the US could earnestly meet each other halfway, stay committed to dialogue for more outcomes and give peace a chance,” Kang said during Monday’s foreign ministry press conference.
“China will continue to work with the international community to encourage both sides to keep moving toward the right direction of denuclearizing the peninsula and establishing a peace regime.”
But relations between Beijing and Washington are also tepid, with the two countries engaged in an escalatory trade war that has seen tariffs levied on each other’s goods, while the U.S. has also raised security concerns over Chinese technology giant Huawei.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump has previously issued contradictory statements on Chinese cooperation regarding North Korea, the president has also accused Beijing of hindering denuclearization efforts as a response to the ongoing trade dispute.
“President Donald J. Trump feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government,” Trump tweeted in August last year.
“We also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertiliser and various other commodities. This is not helpful!”
Previous NK Pro reports have highlighted how Beijing has not reported any fuel shipments to North Korea since mid-2017, though it’s unclear if Trump was alleging that China was breaking UN sanctions which restrict refined petroleum exports to North Korea.
Beijing replied to the U.S. President’s tweet by calling it “irresponsible and absurd logic,” while more recently Trump reversed course and said that Beijing has “been a big help, bigger than most people know.”
“I have a great relationship with Kim Jung Un… And China’s helping us, because I think they want to,” Trump said in April.
“They don’t need nuclear weapons right next to their country. But I also think they’re helping us because of the fact that we’re in a trade deal, which by the way is going very well.”