China Hits Out at 'Escalation'

Beijing says joint U.S. naval exercises are adding to regional anxiety.
2010-12-02
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Crew members work on the deck of the USS George Washington in the Yellow Sea, Nov. 30, 2010.
Crew members work on the deck of the USS George Washington in the Yellow Sea, Nov. 30, 2010.
AFP

Beijing said on Thursday it opposes further displays of military strength amid growing tensions on the Korean peninsula, adding that Moscow has backed Chinese calls for emergency talks in Beijing.

"Military alliances and displays of force cannot solve the issue," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters when asked to comment on joint U.S.-Japan naval exercises starting Friday.

Reports have said the maneuvers will be held in waters off the disputed Diaoyu, or Senkaku, island chain.

Jiang called on the U.S.-Japan alliance not to damage the interests of third parties including China.

"The international community does not support actions that escalate tensions," she added.

Jiang's comments betrayed a sense of indignation among Chinese diplomats, who have been pressing in public for a return to the negotiating table.

However, a slew of sensitive diplomatic cables posted online by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks recently revealed that some Chinese officials take a dim view of supposed ally North Korea.

"While it seems justified for someone to wield weapons, China, as host of the six-party talks, received criticisms for proposing the consultations. Is it fair?" Jiang said.

Proposed talks

China has proposed emergency talks between the heads of delegations to the six-party talks in Beijing in early December, following an exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea last week.

Russia had expressed support for China's call for consultations involving China, North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Russia, and Japan, Jiang said.

"The starting point for China proposing emergency consultations is to let all parties sit at the negotiation table and exchange views on major issues, so as to ease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula," said Jiang.

She said Beijing had never meant to call for formal six-party negotiations, which are aimed at reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"We hope that the parties concerned would consider China's proposal seriously from the perspective of safeguarding the peace and stability of Northeast Asia and promoting the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Jiang said.

A four-day joint South Korean-U.S. naval drill ended in the Yellow Sea on Wednesday following a North Korean artillery attack on South Korean territory last week.

Reported by Luisetta Mudie.

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CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

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