Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence shake hands prior to a luncheon hosted by Abe at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday.North Korea has threatened to launch missile tests "every week." Photo: AFP
China may impose more sanctions on North Korea, but diplomacy is the only solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Chinese analysts said, after a North Korean official vowed to conduct missile tests more frequently.
"We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis," North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol told the BBC in an interview published on Tuesday.
"It's very irresponsible for North Korean officials to make such frivolous statements on an issue as serious as missile tests. It will only provoke the already-strained situation on the Korean Peninsula," Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
All related parties don't want to see a war on the Korean Peninsula. Being restrained is the only way out, Lü said. "It would be appreciated if any party offers proposals to ease tensions rather than exacerbate them."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a peaceful resolution to tensions on the Korean Peninsula when he met visiting US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday, AFP reported.
Pence, who warned that the US strategic patience era is over and all options are on the table in tackling the North Korean nuclear issue, was quoted by Reuters as saying that "President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region, and with China to achieve a peaceful resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
All options on the table of course include military strikes, but it also means the possibility of a dialogue, Chinese experts said.
"China and the US reached a greater consensus after the leaders' meeting. A common understanding on the Korean nuclear issue outweighs disagreements," said Lü.
"The Korean Peninsula nuclear problem has become China's biggest concern. As China's resolve to solve the problem grows, it may intensify sanctions on North Korea under UN Security Council resolutions," said Dong Xiangrong, a research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Lü added if North Korea is not restrained from conducting its sixth nuclear test, which is widely believed to happen on April 25, the 85th anniversary of the military's founding, it would definitely trigger more intense UN sanctions, which China will unswervingly implement.
Lü said China has stepped up its economic sanctions against North Korea since 2016 as it saw more frequent military tests from the latter. The sanctions include banning exports of industrial chemicals, coke and aviation fuel to North Korea and halting the coal trade, and strict financial sanctions.
In February, China announced to suspend all coal imports from North Korea starting February 19 until the end of 2017 in keeping with UN Resolution 2321.