Australia urges China to do more on North Korea threat

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called on China on Thursday (July 27) to do more to contain the threat of North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

North Korea, which has warned Australia could be the target of a strike, test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month, which experts say could put all of Alaska in range for the first time.

The United States and Australia have both indicated growing impatience with China, North Korea's sole major ally, and Ms Bishop said there was much more that China could do.

"China is North Korea's major financial backer. It has much more leverage over North Korea than it claims," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp's Radio National.

"The export relationship with North Korea, the provision of remittance to workers, the foreign investment flows, the technology flows - these are all in China's hands," she said.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes and the Security Council has ratcheted up measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and two long-range missile launches.

Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the United States could impose new sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang, senior US official have said.

China has rejected the criticism and urged a halt to what it called the "China responsibility theory", saying all parties needed to pull their weight.