China Warns Against 'Chaos' Amid Korean Crisis

2013-04-07
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North Korean soldiers take aim at images of South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin (L) and a US soldier (back R) during a shooting practice at an undisclosed location, April 6, 2013.
AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS

China warned Sunday against any "troublemaking" on its "doorstep" as neighbor North Korea's increasing threats against South Korea and the United States raised ominous prospects of a nuclear conflict on the Korean peninsula.

President Xi Jinping told a high-level forum on the southern Chinese island of Hainan that no country should be allowed to sow chaos for selfish gains and called for resolution of any differences between states through "peaceful negotiations."

The world should not be turned into "an arena where gladiators fight each other" and "no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains," Xi told the Boao Forum for Asia.

"With growing interaction among countries, it is inevitable that they encounter frictions here and there," he said.

"What is important is that they should resolve differences through dialogue, consultation and peaceful negotiations in the larger interest of the sound growth of their relations," he said, according to China's state news agency Xinhua which ran Xi's full speech at the forum in two parts.

Xi, who took over as head of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in November, did not cite the ongoing turmoil on the Korean Peninsula or mention North Korea by name but some experts said he was referring to Pyongyang.

Alexander Downer, a former Australian foreign minister who listened to the speeches at the forum, said it was not surprising that Xi did not mention North Korea by name as it was not something a Chinese president would do.

"I thought he was alluding to it," Downer added. "And I think in a very clever way, which was very reassuring to people," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Under pressure

Beijing is coming under pressure to rein in North Korea, which has been issuing vitriolic threats of nuclear war against the United States and U.S. military ally South Korea since the United Nations imposed sanctions in response to Pyongyang's defiant third nuclear weapon test in February.

China has been North Korea's principal ally and financial backer but has shown growing irritation with Pyongyang's war threats, and had backed the tough U.N. sanctions.

In an indication of China's frustration over North Korea's escalation of tensions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued a statement late Saturday opposing any "provocative actions" that could destabilize the region, after a telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Ban had "expressed deep concern and worry over the rising tensions on the Korea Peninsula and hoped the situation would soon cool down in order to prevent events from spinning out of control," Xinhua said.

Wang said that "Beijing opposes any provocative words and actions from any party in the region and does not allow troublemaking at the doorsteps of China."

On Sunday, the Chinese foreign ministry expressed "grave concern" at rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, saying Beijing had asked North Korea to "ensure the safety of Chinese diplomats in North Korea, in accordance with the Vienna Convention and international laws and norms." 

North Korea asked foreign diplomatic missions on Friday to consider moving their staff out of their embassies, warning it cannot guarantee their safety after Wednesday in the event of a conflict.

But the appeal has been viewed as mere rhetoric by some countries.

The move came amid reports about the possibility of another missile test-launch by the hardline North Korean communist government of young leader Kim Jong Un, which last week threatened to restart a long-shuttered nuclear reactor.

Missile launch this week?

A top South Korean security official was quoted saying Sunday that North Korea may launch the missile this week.

Kim Jang-Soo, chief national security adviser to President Park Geun-Hye, said the test-launch or any other North Korean provocations could come before or after April 10, the date by which the North has suggested that diplomats leave Pyongyang.

The United States has meanwhile postponed a missile test scheduled for next week in California after recently deploying nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers, F-22 stealth fighters, and two Aegis anti-missile destroyers to the region in response to North Korean war threats.

"This is the logical, prudent and responsible course of action to take," a U.S. defense official told Reuters on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the test had been unconnected to "anything related to North Korea" and added that another test launch could be expected next month. The United States remains fully prepared to respond to any North Korean threat, the official said.

North Korea is not yet capable of mounting a nuclear device on a ballistic missile that could strike U.S. bases or territory, according to most experts.

The two Koreas have technically been at war for the last 60 years, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a formal peace treaty.

Last month, however, North Korea said that it would no longer be bound by the truce, in protest against South Korea’s joint military exercises with the United States

Reported by RFA's Korean Service. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.