China opposes North Korea's nuclear and missile development: Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reading his statement after a trilateral meeting with Japan and South Korea in Tokyo on Aug 24, 2016.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reading his statement after a trilateral meeting with Japan and South Korea in Tokyo on Aug 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) – Beijing opposes North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday (Aug 24), hours after Pyongyang test-launched a ballistic missile from a submarine towards Japan.

“China is opposed to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development process and is opposed to any actions that trigger tensions on the Korean peninsula,” Wang told reporters after a meeting with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea.

“China is opposed to any actions that violate UN Security Council Resolution 2270,” Wang added, referring to a resolution passed in March that condemns North Korea’s military threats, including missile development and nuclear tests.

He also said that the three ministers discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Japan and South Korea regularly condemn Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile development, but are frustrated by what they see as a lack of pressure on the country by the North’s economic lifeline China.

The trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers, their first since March 2015, comes as Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing have struggled to find common ground on how to deal with North Korea.

Wang did not directly refer to Wednesday’s launch, but it came as he was making the first visit to Japan by a Chinese foreign minister since Xi Jinping became president in 2013 and could be seen as an embarrassment for Beijing.

South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung Se condemned the launch.

“I stressed the current situation is urgent and serious as the North has quickly improved its nuclear and ballistic missile capability more than ever, including this morning’s launch of an SLBM,” he said, referring to a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida, also condemned the launch.

“We can never accept the provocative act and protested to North Korea,” he told reporters.

“At today’s meeting, we confirmed that Japan, China and South Korea... will strongly call on North Korea to refrain from provocative acts and comply with the UN resolution.” Wang had earlier called for calm after news of the launch emerged.

“We hope that (the situation) will not become more tense and complicated,” he told reporters ahead of trilateral talks, Jiji Press reported.

The talks begin as Japan, China and South Korea are themselves at odds over various territorial disputes and a US missile defence system.

Sino-Japanese tensions over a territorial dispute have risen this month, while China and South Korea have sparred over the planned deployment in the latter country of a US anti-missile system.

The Tokyo-Seoul relationship is also prone to periodic tension due to the legacy of Japan’s harsh colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45.