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China Rejects US Criticism of Enabling N. Korea to Build Its Arsenal

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China rejects U.S. criticism that it is enabling North Korea to build its arsenal and behave aggressively by helping Pyongyang develop nuclear weapons and by protecting it internationally.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said U.S. accusations that China is helping and protecting North Korea are irresponsible.

Jiang says China is against any actions that undermine peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and does not seek to protect any side.

Tensions have risen in Northeast Asia since late last month, when North Korea fired artillery on a South Korean island and Seoul's forces returned fire. Four South Koreans died.

U.S. media in recent days have quoted American officials as accusing China of helping North Korea start a uranium-enrichment program and launch attacks on South Korea.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed Korea tensions in a meeting with the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers in Washington Monday. In a show of unity, the three allies called on China to do more to rein in North Korean belligerence.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang did not directly respond when asked whether China sees the recently revealed North Korean uranium enrichment activity as a violation of U.N. resolutions. Instead, she repeated China's call for countries to implement U.N. resolutions with what she called a "responsible" attitude.

On South Korea's plans to hold live fire military exercises, Jiang also repeated China's call for calm and restraint.

Jiang emphasized that China has called for talks that bring together the six countries that are already negotiating an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. She did not say if these talks would happen soon, but she said China is certain the current tensions can be resolved through dialogue.

The six countries are the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. The talks, which began seven years ago, aim to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for economic aid, diplomatic recognition and security guarantees. The talks have been stalled for two years.

Article by Stephanie Ho, VOA News