China Stays Firmly on Fence Over N.Korean Attack

      November 26, 2010 12:53

      China's response to North Korea's shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island so far has been very similar to the position it took on the North's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in March. After expressing condolences to the victims and urging the two Koreas to remain calm, it tries to gloss over the cause of the incident.   

      Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, currently in Russia, on Wednesday said he opposes any form of military provocation and urged "the countries involved" to exercise "maximum restraint" and work towards resuming six-party nuclear talks.

      That was the first statement by a member of the Chinese leadership on the attack. Wen did not say who attacked whom. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in a briefing Thursday said there are "different opinions" about the cause of the incident, clearly implying that China will not side with either North or South Korea.

      After the sinking of the Cheonan, Chinese President Hu Jintao in April also expressed condolences for the victims when he met with President Lee Myung-bak in Shanghai. But in May, Wen said China will not back any side. Ma Zhaoxu, the spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry at the time, repeatedly called for calm and restraint and said China would treat international and regional issues "fairly and objectively." But there never followed any kind of response to an international investigation of the sinking. 

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