After weeks of prodding by President Donald Trump, China has finally condemned North Korea’s actions publicly. However, the communist nation still criticized America’s actions in the region, and is refusing to commit to America’s side if military action breaks. In addition, Russia has managed to increase their criticism of North Korea, while warning America to tone down the rhetoric.
As one of North Korea’s leading partners and enablers, China is in a unique position to pressure Kim Jong Un into some concessions. With a few minor exceptions, they have done little to publicly intervene in the crisis. Instead, China has refused to back the position of the United States, Japan, South Korea, and their allies.
President Trump’s frustration with China is evident, as he has publicly called them out for their failure to help resolve the crisis. He took the strained relationship to a new level when he recently floated the idea (via Twitter) that he may halt trade with anyone backing North Korea. Such a move could be devastating for both China and America economically, and it is unclear if that threat forced China’s new comments. They did, however, include some reserved criticism of the United States for elevating tensions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “dangerous game of brinkmanship” was admonished by Xinhua, the Communist Party of China’s news agency. However, this was followed by the assertion that the US’ “belligerent tone and military exercises on DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as China officially refers to North Korea] doorstep ate into Pyongyang’s sense of security.” This, Xinhua suggested, was what prompted the nuclear test that caused as many political tremors as it did physical ones.
Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that China made “stern representations” with North Korean diplomats following the blast. He also said, on the same day the US’ envoy to the United Nations called for the “strongest possible measures” against Mr Kim’s regime that all parties should “refrain from further escalating tensions.”
The collapse of the Kim dictatorship would cause millions of North Korean refugees to flee to China, and US troops could be based in a reunified Korea bordering China: something Mr Xi would not tolerate.
“China will never allow chaos and war on the (Korean) Peninsula,” said Liu Jieyi, the Chinese ambassador to the UN, as he called for nations to respond to its joint proposal with Russia that North Korea stop its military actions in return for the US stopping military exercises with South Korea.
In a dig about Mr Trump’s threat to impose harsher sanctions on countries that trade with North Korea – namely China as Pyongyang’s biggest trading partner – the newspaper added: “If the US is not able to tame North Korea, how can it force big powers such as China and Russia to yield to its demands through sanctions and deterrence?”
Russia is also concerned of what war with North Korea could mean for them. That led to yet another warning from Moscow to North Korea, with a plead to the United States that they show more “restraint.” As the country on the outside looking in on the North Korean crisis, it seems Russia does not want Trump to be the only world leader dictating terms to North Korea.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov alerted North Korea on Monday, saying that any mistake from from Kim Jong Un and his army could lead to war.
Ryabkov carried through on former threats that Russia made, emphasizing that North Korea needs to immediately stop its continuous nuclear tests and on-going threats to countries around the world, saying “there should be no room for escalation.”
“Those who are smarter and stronger should show restraint,” he said. “Given the current situation, any miscalculation may lead to a political or military outbreak, rather than to a nuclear test like the one recently conducted, which actually reflects the deteriorating situation in Northeast Asia,” Ryabkov told reporters.
Neither President Trump nor Secretary of Defense James Mattis have gone easy on North Korea. After Trump promised “fire and fury” upon North Korea, Mattis stepped out and said a “massive military response” would be invoked if North Korea moved forward. Even though both Russia and China have insisted that a diplomatic solution is possible, President Trump tweeted that talk will no longer work, blaming North Korea for the impasse.