New China Envoy Urges Restraint in S.Korea-U.S. Drills

Qiu Guohong Qiu Guohong

Seoul and Washington should refrain from conducting joint military exercises that agitate North Korea and those drills should not target a specific country, the new Chinese ambassador to Seoul urged Monday.

Qiu Guohong made the remarks in his first press conference at the Chinese Embassy in Myeong-dong, Seoul.

"A North Korean official told me that the South Korea-U.S. military exercises were conducted with the express goal of occupying Pyongyang," he said, adding that this perception was responsible for the North’s aggressive reaction.

"Of course such drills upset Pyongyang," he added. "I hope that Washington and Seoul will refrain from conducting them. Such drills shouldn't target a third country. Instead I would hope that they have a positive impact on peace and stability in the region."

Since the 1970s, Seoul and Washington have been conducting joint military exercises practicing a counterattack against a North Korean invasion and an occupation of Pyongyang.

In other remarks, Qiu said China is resolutely opposed to North Korea threatening other countries with another nuclear or missile test. "China also shares President Park Geun-hye's worries about a nuclear domino effect" in Northeast Asia.

But he denied China has suspended oil shipments to the North to dissuade it from conducting another nuclear test. "I've never heard about that," he said. But he added the oil pipelines there often undergo maintenance.

The envoy also criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for kid-glove handling of Japan as the Shinzo Abe administration lurches to the far right.

"In Seoul, Obama called imperial Japan's mobilization of women as wartime sex slaves 'a terrible, egregious violation of human rights.' He should have made the remarks not in South Korea but in Japan," Qiu said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit Seoul any time between June and September, he added.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 29, 2014 12:53 KST