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[Editorial] Questionable Response of Chinese Pres. Hu

Posted April. 04, 2009 08:52,   


With only a few days left before North Korea’s expected launch of a Taepodong-2 missile, Chinese President Hu Jintao said, “Parties involved should stay coolheaded and avoid action that could further complicate the situation.” This came amid a comment from Japanese Prime Minister Aso Taro that said, “We need to send a strong message to North Korea via a resolution of the U.N. Security Council.” China has not sent a message to the North but expressed its concerns over the responses of related parties. Hu`s lopsided comments go against international efforts to deter the North from threatening peace and security in Northeast Asia. It is really disappointing that China’s leader has taken a defensive attitude in dealing with international security issues.

A missile launch will violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718. On October 14, 2006, the council considered the North’s nuclear test conducted five days earlier a serious threat to peace and unanimously. The council adopted a resolution urging North Korea to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program. Permanent council member China also supported the resolution. If Beijing keeps standing idle, it is avoiding its responsibility. It makes no sense that China, a permanent council member representing Asia, turns a blind eye to the North, which poses threat to the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeast Asia.

China has repeatedly promised to play a constructive role in maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula. If it means what it says, Beijing needs to be more proactive as Pyongyang`s missile launch draws near. As a permanent member of the Security Council, it needs to remind the North that a missile launch will violate a council resolution.

Though North Korea says it just plans to test a satellite, China cannot deny that the North`s rocket is a ballistic missile. Chinese silence could encourage the North to go one step further. In other words, Beijing’s lukewarm stance could spur Pyongyang to wrongly believe that it face no sanctions even after its missile launch since Resolution 1718 will be broken.

China’s response is in stark contrast with that of Russia. In his summit with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed concerns over the North’s missile launch and urged Pyongyang to exercise restraint. If the council fails to prevent the launch of the long-range missile and impose sanctions on the North afterwards, no country will respect the resolution.

China is gloating over its status as a G20 member, along with the U.S. Does it deserve that when it does nothing to prevent the North from launching a missile? It is doubtful that Beijing even deserves a seat on the U.N. Security Council if it makes no effort to deter Pyongyang from threatening peace.