Beijing supports UN action on North Korea while urging talks

U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, are seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea yesterday

China supports further United Nations action in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test but also wants to see renewed efforts to begin dialogue involving all sides, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday.

China hopes North Korea will “see the situation clearly and come to the right judgment and choice,” Wang said.

He said the U.N. should take “necessary measures,” but added that sanctions and pressure should spur dialogue and negotiation between the sides toward the goal of a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula.

“We believe that sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the nuclear issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation. Only when the two are put together can it unlock the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula,” Wang said.

China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, as well as North Korea’s main trading partner and source of food and fuel aid.

Also yesterday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated China’s opposition to South Korea’s deployment of a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System, also known as THAAD, which is intended to protect against North Korean missile attacks. Beijing says the system’s powerful radars will be able to monitor flights and missile launches deep inside northeastern China.

Two of the system’s launchers are already operational, and the remaining four were added yesterday amid protests by residents living near the site in South Korea.

Geng told reporters that China had complained to the U.S. and South Korea and urged them to “take seriously the security concerns and interests of China and other regional countries.”

The U.S. and South Korea should “immediately stop the deployment process and withdraw relevant equipment,” Geng said.

China’s opposition to the THAAD deployment has sent formerly strong relations with South Korea into a tailspin, cutting deeply into the crucial economic relationship between the two countries.

South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. said its China plant halted operation due to a supply disruption on Tuesday, its second shutdown in China in less than a month.

While China has not discussed military planning for a crisis on the Korean Peninsula with the U.S. or others, its defense ministry reported that the armed forces carried out drills in nearby waters two days after North Korea said it exploded a hydrogen bomb on Sunday.

The ministry said that the exercise in the Bohai Gulf was aimed at “boosting the forces expulsion mission capability” and not at any specific nations or targets. The drills had been pre-planned as part of routine training, according to the statement posted late Wednesday on the ministry’s official Sina Weibo microblog account.

While it is usual for the Chinese military to hold drills in the Bohai Sea off its northeastern coast, the timing of Tuesday’s exercise has drawn special attention. China has repeatedly said it will not tolerate an armed conflict on its doorstep and says there can be no military solution to the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In May, China test-fired a new type of missile into the Bohai Gulf amid anger over South Korea’s deployment of a sophisticated U.S. anti-missile system to which China has fervently objected. The feud, which shows no sign of waning, has severely impacted diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.

The Bohai Gulf lies just west of the Yellow Sea, which separates China from the Korean Peninsula.

Outside experts have been unable to verify North Korea’s claim that it tested a hydrogen bomb Sunday, but say it’s plausible.

China’s defense ministry last week said that it had not made any changes to its military posture on the North Korean border. AP

S. Koreans in China told to avoid arguments

South Korea has warned its citizens in China to avoid “friction” and “needless arguments” with Chinese people after the U.S. military added more launchers to a contentious missile defense system in South Korea that Beijing opposes.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said yesterday that the message posted on the website of the South Korean Embassy in Beijing was aimed at protecting the safety of South Koreans in China.

Washington and Seoul say the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system allows South Korea and U.S. troops stationed in the country to better cope with the threat of North Korean missiles.

China has expressed anger over the deployment, saying that the system’s powerful radar can be potentially used to peer deep into its territory and monitor its flights and missile launches.

South Korea has previously raised concerns over a reported ban on Chinese tour groups visiting the country in what many saw as Beijing’s retaliation over the THAAD deployment.

There have also been reports in past months about growing calls in China to boycott South Korean products and cancel appearances by South Korean pop singers or movie stars.

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