China warns against use of force on NK nuclear issue

By Wang Tianmi in Pyongyang and Yang Sheng in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/13 23:58:39

Kim inaugurates new Pyongyang development despite rising tensions on peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrives flanked by vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission Choe Ryong-hae (left) and Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju (right) at the opening ceremony for Ryomyong Street, a new housing development in Pyongyang, on Thursday. Photo: AFP

China on Thursday reiterated its opposition to using force to resolve the North Korean crisis after North Korea invited hundreds of foreign journalists to Pyongyang amid speculation that another nuclear test may be fast approaching.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing Thursday that it has always been the stance of the Chinese government that dialogue and consultations are the only ways to achieve denuclearization and safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

"We have taken note of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's remarks that Russia and the US agree that the only solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is political," Lu said.

"We hope that all related parties will forge consensus on this general direction and fundamental principle and make concrete efforts accordingly," Lu said.

Lavrov made the remarks Wednesday after talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Meanwhile, US research institute 38 North released commercial satellite imagery on its website of North Korea's Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site on Wednesday showing that North Korea is ready for a nuclear test. The pictures come at the same time as some 200 foreign journalists were invited to Pyongyang ahead of an annual day commemorating the birth of former leader Kim Il-sung, known as the Day of the Sun.  

Lü Chao, a researcher on North Korea at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that he believes a nuclear test is unlikely.

"North Korea hasn't openly said it would conduct its sixth nuclear test, but they did say their intercontinental ballistic missile was ready for testing when Kim Jong-un delivered his New Year address, so … a missile test is a more likely 'gift' for the Day of the Sun," he said.

The country's founding father Kim Il-sung was born 105 years ago on April 15.

"Launching a missile would still be dangerous since a US aircraft-carrier strike group is near and no one wants to see any further provocation to increase tension. The best way for North Korea to show its strength would be to display the intercontinental ballistic missile during their military parade on the Day of the Sun," Lü said.

Diplomatic efforts

North Korea is making some efforts to rebuild its relationship with the outside world. According to North Korea's state-run media Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday, Pyongyang announced that it will rebuild its Diplomatic Commission which was dismantled during the Kim Jong-il era. This commission will be responsible for foreign affairs with significant countries like the US.

"This act seems to indicate that North Korea is trying to change its difficult situation in diplomacy. Right now, North Korea is facing the most difficult diplomatic situation in history," Lü said.

But North Korea should realize that appointing a group of old diplomats and rebuilding a diplomatic organ cannot change its difficult situation, because the core reason is its policy on nuclear weapons. If it changes this, it would be a lot easier for everyone, said Wang Junsheng, a research fellow on East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

'Big event'

Despite the mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea invited some 200 journalists to Pyongyang for the Day of the Sun, which falls on Saturday.

In the past, North Korea has invited foreign journalists to report on its "huge events" like the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite on February 7, 2016 to celebrate the Day of Shining Star, the birth anniversary of Kim Jong-il, on February 16.   

On Thursday morning at 10, foreign journalists gathered in Pyongyang for what officials said was a "big and important event" - the opening ceremony of a new development, called Ryomyong Street, attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, grandson of Kim Il-sung. The street, lined by skyscrapers, is a new showpiece development in the North Korean capital.

During the 25-minute ceremony, Kim Jong-un cut a red ribbon to inaugurate the development, but did not deliver a speech. His appearance though, gave an obvious boost to local people's morale.

People in Pyongyang seem to have no concern for the UN sanctions and US military determination against North Korea. An anonymous amusement park worker told the Global Times after the event that "Although we are suffering from the sanctions launched by imperialism, we can still finish great construction projects like this [Ryomyong Street], so there is nothing to be afraid of and we will prevail."

When talking about the US sending an aircraft carrier strike group to the peninsula, he said "As long as the great Marshall Kim Jong-un is leading us, we will definitely win the war, no matter what kind of invasion they might launch."

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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