Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has strongly condemned the possibility of military action against North Korea, stating he believes it will not resolve the issue. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Yi claimed he expected the outcome of the current tension to result in peace talks. Recent tensions between North Korea and the United States come amidst reports that North Korea is preparing to conduct a sixth nuclear test while a US aircraft carrier backed by Japanese warships heads towards the Korean peninsula. US President Donald Trump diverted the carrier with the intention of deterring North Korea from another nuclear test. Trump has also appealed to China for their help on the North Korean problem, promising better trade terms for their support. “The way you’re going to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea, otherwise we’re just going to go it alone,” he cautioned on Wednesday.
Tensions over North Korea’s nuclear strength have increased as reports from the CIA Director insist that North Korea is poised, more than ever, with the ability to launch a nuclear missile that could reach the US. While the United States has technically been at war with North Korea since the 1953 armistice, arms against one another haven’t been taken up since. However, Trump’s rhetoric since his January inauguration suggests he is willing to take a hard line against North Korea and the threat it poses, and he is hoping to encourage China into supporting him. While China actively condemns North Korea’s weapons program, it also remains North Korea’s biggest protector and neighbour and is unlikely to support military action against them. Instead, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi encourages both sides to think carefully about their actions, “Whoever provokes the situation, whoever continues to make trouble in this place, they will have to assume historical responsibility.” A Japanese Diplomat to the United States also claimed that he was putting pressure on the US to resolve the situation peacefully, with fears that North Korea had around 350 missiles that could hit Japan. He further stated that Japan was looking to China to sway North Korea into standing down and take the lead by claiming, “We will watch what action China takes.”
While Trump maintains that China needs to commit to taking a stand against North Korea, after speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he admitted that the issue is more complicated than he initially thought. “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” he told the Wall Street Journal, “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.”
Despite their severity, Yi remained optimistic about the outcome of the tensions, “Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions, we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”