China has shrugged off widespread claims that it has not done enough to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program, saying instead that it was the United States that had inflamed the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
Responding to North Korea’s fifth and latest nuclear test last week, China’s Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Hun Chunying said it was the US that should take on its “due responsibility” in the matter.
According to the Associated Press, Hua was replying to a remark by U.S Defense Secretary Ash Carter who had said that China had an “important responsibility” in North Korea.
A TodayOnline report quoted Carter saying, “China has and shares an important responsibility for this development and has an important responsibility to reverse it.”
Hua, however, said Monday that Carter was “being too modest”. She also cited a Chinese saying that “whoever started the trouble should end it”, as reported by AP.
“I think the U.S. should go over the process of the development of the nuclear issue and earnestly work on a tangible and effective resolution,” Hua added, in a report on The Tribune.
U.S. officials have continued to hold on strongly to the opinion that China plays a crucial role in stopping North Korea’s nuclear program, and Carter’s comments reinforced that belief.
China, however, is North Korea’s strongest political ally and economic lifeline and despite having agreed to UN Security Council sanctions in March, has been seen as not doing enough to tighten economic pressure on North Korea as punishment for its nuclear tests.
In The Tribune’s report, it was noted that since Friday, Chinese state media have been linking the latest missile test to the American deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea – the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system or Thaad – which China had opposed.
The report said Hua did not expressly mention the matter on Monday but urged all parties to be more “balanced” when resolving the issue.
Citing analysts, a New York Times article Sunday said the Thaad deployment had “effectively killed any chance China’s cooperating with the United States”. This is because Beijing sees it as another bid by the US to contain China.
“China is strongly opposed to North Korea’s nuclear weapons but at the same time opposes the defense system in South Korea,” it quoted assistant professor of international relations at Renmin University Cheng Xiaohe as saying.