China says it is playing a constructive role in the negotiations of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over the recent rocket launch by North Korea and called on the council to react calmly.
"China maintains that the Security Council's reaction should be prudent and moderate, and that it should work for the peace and stability of the (Korean) Peninsula and avoid the progressive escalation of tensions," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing on Monday.
Hong said China has repeatedly expressed its position on the satellite launches, stressing regret over the issue. "Based on such a stance, China has constructively participated in the recent UNSC negotiations," Hong said in response to reports that the UNSC is likely to pass a resolution on North Korea's satellite launch.
North Korea launched a long-range rocket to successfully send the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 into orbit on December 12, North Korea claims.
The UNSC condemned it, calling the move "a clear violation" of council resolutions. After the North Korea 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests, the UNSC resolutions banned North Korea from developing nuclear and missile technology.
The US and China on Friday reached a tentative deal on a draft resolution to expand existing UN sanctions measures against Pyongyang, media reports said, and the resolution is said to be passed by the 15-nation council this week.
"China and the US have many differences in principles over dealing with the satellite launch. That's why the UN negotiations have lasted for more than a month," said Shi Yuanhua, a researcher on Korean studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University.
The US wanted to impose new sanctions against North Korea, while China wants to issue a statement to expand the existing UN sanctions, Reuters said.
"This is a compromise," said one diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations, AFP reported Saturday. "The US will get a formal resolution and widening use of the existing measures. China can say that it has avoided new sanctions," the diplomat said.
"China has its stance on the satellite launch and wants to solve the issue within the scope of existing UN resolutions," argued Lü Chao, a Korean Peninsula issues researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.
"It is not necessary for the US to exaggerate the security threat of the launch. North Korea is entitled to utilize space for peaceful purposes," Lü said.