China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi says 'blind faith' in sanctions, pressure on North Korea are irresponsible

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, in Beijing, on March 8, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - "Blind faith" in sanctions and international pressure on North Korea are irresponsible, China's Foreign Minister said on Tuesday, after the United Nations Security Council implemented a fresh round of economic curbs targeting the North's nuclear programme.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch last month triggering a UN Security Council resolution and tough new sanctions.

"The final settlement of the Korean peninsula issue needs comprehensive action and the right medicine for the illness," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists. "Blind faith in sanctions and pressure, actually, are not a responsible approach for the future of the Korean peninsula."

Mr Wang made the remarks at a briefing as China conducted its annual parliamentary session.

Isolated North Korea has rejected criticism of its nuclear and rocket programmes, even from old ally China, and last week leader Kim Jong Un ordered his country to be ready to use nuclear weapons in the face of what he sees as growing threats from enemies.

The UN Security Council put in place its latest round of sanctions, drafted by China and the United States, last week.

Independent experts have frequently questioned China's resolve to enforce sanctions against North Korea, whose economy is heavily dependent on China. China has said it will enforce the measures "conscientiously".

"At this time with the situation on the Korean Peninsula, there are swords drawn and bows bent in mutual hostility, and the air is saturated with the taste of gunpowder," Wang said. "As the largest neighbouring country of the peninsula, China will not sit idly by and watch stability on the peninsula be destroyed on a basic level."

South Korean and US troops began large-scale military exercises on Monday in an annual test of their defences against North Korea, which called the drills "nuclear war moves" and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

China has voiced opposition to discussions between South Korea and the United States on possible deployment of a new US anti-missile system to South Korea. China sees the terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system as a threat to its strategic deterrence.

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