Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

China Ratchets Up Pressure on North Korea

China Ratchets Up Pressure on North Korea

"It's quite clear in terms of there being no daylight between the worldwide community as to the expectation that North Korea will take steps to achieve all of my objectives, which is a denuclearised Korean peninsula", he told reporters on Monday. Chinese President Xi Jinping has often referred to their "blood ties", forged when the two sides fought against the the Korean War.

Still, he maintained the pressure on North Korea, pressing Thailand on Tuesday for more action against Pyongyang.

But it is a different story now.

The comments came two days after a unanimous 15 to 0 vote by the United Nations Security Council to sanction North Korea over two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests last month. According to Nikki Haley, America's ambassador to the United Nations, the total damage to Kim Jong-un's pocketbook would run in the range of US$1 billion, or roughly a third of North Korea's overall trade revenue. According to South Korean statistics, China accounts for an average of 90 percent of total trade with North Korea. China's warnings did not stop there.

Mr Tillerson, who held separate talks in Manila with foreign ministers Wang Yi of China and Sergei Lavrov of Russian Federation on Sunday, also sought to emphasise a united stance against the North.

Yet Pyongyang shows no sign of changing its ways.

Earlier on Monday, Pyongyang vowed it would deliver "thousands-fold" revenge against the United States over the fresh sanctions.

In his speech at the forum in the Philippine capital, Foreign Minister Ri went further, saying the the cause of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. In a separate statement to reporters in Manila, North Korea called President Donald Trump's "America First" policy risky and said its nuclear program was necessary to avoid a USA invasion similar to those in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

"North Korea should realise if it doesn't stop its nuclear, missile provocations, it will face even stronger pressure and sanctions", Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a regular news briefing.

Will the United Nations sanctions - or the diplomatic efforts by China - succeed in stopping North Korea?

"We've not had an extended period of time where they have not taken some type of provocative action by launching ballistic missiles", Mr Tillerson said.

Foreign ministers from China, Russia, South Korea and Japan all spoke with their North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho in Manila. Those meetings have been suspended since 2008 when the parties failed to agree on how to examine Pyongyang's reports on its nuclear development.

There was no direct reaction from North Korea to Tillerson's remarks but in a statement after the USA secretary of state made his comments, Pyongyang responded robustly to the new sanctions by saying it was ready to teach the United States a "severe lesson" if it attacked. Last month, Trump asserted that North Korea "is behaving in a very risky manner, and something will have to be done about it.and probably dealt with rapidly". "He has little flexibility in terms of. negotiations".

It will require a willingness to think seriously about diplomacy and, yes, talking to Kim Jong-un about his nuclear-tipped ICBMs and other missiles. All are North Koreans, four in Russian Federation and five in China, who are either officials or representatives of companies and banks, said Ruggiero. He also said any dialogue would deal with how North Korea can "feel secure and prosper economically". "The president says this, while the state secretary says that", Yang said.

Haley said Trump was keeping "all options on the table" for dealing with North Korea and speaking of its leader, Kim Jong Un, said "he has to decide if he strikes the United States, is that something he can win?"

"It's a positive but very small step, and can at least help the two Koreas exchange some views on the current state of affairs", Kim Jin-ho, a professor of political science at Dankook University in South Korea, said of the meeting between foreign ministers.

Who, then, does that leave to take the lead in this situation? It is widely believed that if China were simply to cut that off, the Kim regime would eventually collapse.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to have dropped a condition for direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

"It's not that easy, but it is a direction that we need to work together towards".

The conference is the first time Tillerson and his North Korean counterpart have been in the same room.

"Minister Kang strongly condemned the North's repeated provocations and emphasized the need for the worldwide community to be more united and faithfully carry out the U.N. Security Council's Resolution 2371", the ministry said in a press release.

Yet, from the Trump team's vantage point, the reason why the ICBM tests are so serious is that the missiles reportedly had the range to reach states on the country's Western seaboard.

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