January 27, 2016 08:06
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, now in Beijing, will urge China to do more to press North Korea to stop its controversial nuclear tests during his talks beginning shortly in the Chinese capital.
Kerry has meetings planned with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi early Wednesday, and the two top diplomats will hold a news conference before they hold further talks at a working lunch, U.S. officials said.
Earlier this month, Pyongyang conducted what it said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb -- a move that drew international condemnation.
China is an economic lifeline for North Korea. A focal point for Kerry will be urging Beijing to use its leverage to try to convince Pyongyang to stop such tests, which are considered provocative by world powers.
Also, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China's support is crucial for passage of any UN penalties against North Korea.
◆ Competing Interests
However, analysts say China sometimes appears to be hesitant about imposing additional penalties on its neighbor because of competing interests.
"For China, the challenge is balancing the need to punish North Korea with their concerns about stability in North Korea. So, they want to push but they don't want to push too hard," says Scott Snyder, a Korean studies analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled ahead of Kerry to Asia where he discussed North Korea's action with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
Blinken said they stood firmly united "in strongly condemning this test, and in our determination, to impose costs for [North Korea] flaunting of its international obligations."
◆ Chinese Officials
Kerry will meet with officials including China's President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Another focal point during the talks will be the maritime dispute in the South China Sea, where China and others in the Asia-Pacific region, including Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines, have overlapping claims.
Earlier this month, regional tensions flared when China tested a runway on one of its artificial islands in the region.
China is the last leg of Kerry's three-nation tour of Asia that also included stops in Laos and Cambodia.
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