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Liu Jieyi, China's representative to the U.N., disputed U.S. claims that Beijing could resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.   © Reuters
Politics

China's UN envoy deflects American criticism on North Korea

Beijing blames failure of Security Council resolutions on Washington, Pyongyang

ARIANA KING, Nikkei staff writer | China

UNITED NATIONS -- Responsibility for defusing the North Korean nuclear issue rests with Washington and Pyongyang, and not with Beijing, Chinese U.N. envoy Liu Jieyi said at a news conference Monday wrapping up China's presidency of the Security Council for the month of July.

"If the two principal parties refuse to move toward what is required by the Security Council resolutions," Liu said, citing an easing of tensions and a shift toward dialogue, "then no matter how capable China is, China's efforts will not yield practical results."

The U.S. and North Korea "hold the primary responsibility to keep things moving, to start moving in the right direction, not China," he said.

Liu's comments come on the heels of last week's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile -- the second such launch from Pyongyang in July -- and they serve as a direct response to statements from the U.S. criticizing China's reserved stance toward its immediate neighbor.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday refuted media reports that Washington would request an urgent meeting of the Security Council -- as was the case following the July 4 missile test -- arguing in a statement that an emergency session producing nothing of consequence would be pointless.

"North Korea is already subject to numerous Security Council resolutions that they violate with impunity and that are not complied with by all U.N. member states," Haley's statement read. "An additional Security Council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value."

"China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step," her statement read. "The time for talk is over."

Haley's statement also follows a series of tweets from President Donald Trump expressing disappointment in China and depicting an unfair trade-off between goods and diplomatic influence.

"Our foolish past leaders have allowed [China] to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!" the tweets read.

At Monday's news conference, Liu buckled down on China's position that the two sides must engage in dialogue, and he shifted some of the blame for spotty sanctions implementation toward the U.S.

Past resolutions call for dialogue and the resumption of negotiations, and no such dialogue has taken place despite Chinese suggestions such as the double suspension proposal, Liu said. This proposal entails North Korea suspending nuclear and missile activities while the U.S. and South Korea halt joint military exercises.

"So that means this part of the obligation contained in the Security Council resolutions is not honored by the relevant countries," Liu said.

"[N]ow instead of de-escalating tension, we see ... further [missile] testing that we oppose, and we also see language and action from elsewhere that heightens tension, talking about 'all options on the table.'" he said, referring to American attempts to leverage its military as well as the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system by the U.S. in South Korea.

China's envoy also criticized unilateral U.S. sanctions, which he argued hinder "the implementation of the international norm as embodied by Security Council resolutions."

"So I believe it is clear to all who has done what to implement the Security Council resolutions, [and] who has failed to uphold the responsibility to implement the Security Council resolutions," Liu said.

China and the U.S. are in talks over a new Security Council resolution. Given the two recent ICBM tests, the council ought to look at "what measures should be put in place to prevent further testing and at least to make sure that the nonproliferation regime works better to stop the nuclear and ballistic missile programs," Liu said.

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