China has done much more to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear program and stop its military brinkmanship than the world gives it credit for, Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie claimed Sunday.
"The work we have done with North Korea is much more than what the outside world may expect. We are trying to persuade them not to take risks," Liang said in a speech on the last day of the 10th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore, according to AP.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula "is moving toward relaxation, but the foundation remains fragile. We need to cool things down," he added.
Liang was apparently responding to international criticism that China sided with the North over its attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year. When North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Beijing last month, Chinese President Hu Jintao also urged North Korea to improve relations with South Korea by being more flexible and removing obstacles. But Kim stonewalled by answering, "We have consistently made efforts to improve inter-Korean relations."
Liang also sought to calm fears over China's military buildup, saying Chinese military might is still two decades behind the U.S.' "I know many people tend to believe that with the growth of China's economy, China will become a military threat. China will never seek hegemony or military expansion," he said. "This is a solemn pledge made by the Chinese government to the international community."