China Caught on Back Foot by N.Korean Rocket Plans

      February 04, 2016 10:06

      Chief Chinese nuclear negotiator Wu Dawei arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday without realizing that North Korea was going to announce a plan to launch a space rocket, a high-level source in Beijing said Wednesday.

      "Wu wouldn't have wanted to hear the news while he was in Pyongyang," the source said.

      The North in January conducted a nuclear test without notifying Beijing beforehand, in another sign of deep fissures in their alliance.

      But China seems to have decided to swallow its anger, at least publicly. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang expressed "grave concern" over the North's announcement and called for restraint from "all sides."

      But he added Wu was only in Pyongyang for the purpose of "exchanging views with the North Korea side over the current situation of the Korean Peninsula."

      He said China "cannot stop" the North from attempting to launch a rocket.

      "China will engage in contact and coordination with each related side, and play a constructive role in maintaining the peace and stability of the peninsula and this region," Lu said.

      The formulaic response makes it seem unlikely that Beijing would back much tougher international sanctions against the North, even supposing there was room for them.

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