China urges calm as N.Korea slams US for terror label

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/21 20:53:39

US returns N.Korea to state sponsor of terror list

People watch a TV screen showing an image of US President Donald Trump at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea, Tuesday. Trump announced Monday the US is putting North Korea on America's terrorism blacklist. The on-screen text reads, "Threat to the world." Photo: AP

China urged relevant parties on Tuesday to help ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula after the US on Monday announced it placed North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

US President Donald Trump made the announcement Monday during a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House and said the Treasury Department will announce new sanctions against North Korea, CNN reported.

"China hopes relevant parties could do more to ease the tensions, and help all relevant parties return to negotiations and to the right track to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue and talks," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press conference Tuesday.

"This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea ... and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime," Trump was quoted by CNN as saying.

"This just continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim [Jong-un] regime," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after Trump's announcement, "all with an intention to have him understand that this is only going to get worse until you are ready to come and talk."

North Korean state media published a strong rebuke of Trump on Tuesday, even though it wasn't clear if it was in direct response to the terror designation.

"The hideous crimes committed by the lunatic president of the US are a blatant challenge to the dignity of the supreme leadership of North Korea," the article in North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun said, warning that "Those who trample on and make a mockery of North Korea's dignity can never go scot-free."

Iran, Sudan and Syria were the only three countries that were labeled state sponsors of terror by the US before the Monday announcement.

North Korea was removed from the list by former US President George W. Bush in 2008 as part of a bid to save a nuclear deal with the country.

The US Department of State website said the four main categories of sanctions resulting from being labeled terrorism-supporting countries include restrictions on receiving US foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual-use items, and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

It is more of a symbolic action and will likely backfire, said Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

Lü told the Global Times that it is rash and absurd for Washington to try to demonize the image of Pyongyang with such a designation especially after more than two months without a reported nuclear or ballistic missile test by Pyongyang.

The US is taking the opposite path as the rest of the international community by imposing unilateral sanctions outside UN resolutions on the issue, said Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations.

Citing half brother's death

The New York Times reported that Trump and Tillerson both cited the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader's half brother, as evidence that Pyongyang sponsors international terrorism.

Kim Jong-nam was assassinated in February in Malaysia.

North Korean agents were blamed for plotting his death, which involved the use of a rare nerve agent banned by an international treaty, the report said.

The tragedy is within the ruling family, and does not amount to a terrorist incident by definition, Lü said, adding that "it appears rather weak and groundless as evidence for the designation."

It will impact China and other countries who share trade ties with North Korea in many ways, Li said, but the impact will start with foreign banks involved, which the US has previously done anyway before the designation.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is visiting China, according to its foreign ministry website. This will prepare for the visit by the South Korean president to China in December.

Kang's visit will also seek ways for the two countries to resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Newspaper headline: China urges calm on NK

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