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China’s intent behind hampering adoption of UNSC sanctions against N. Korea

China’s intent behind hampering adoption of UNSC sanctions against N. Korea

Posted August. 12, 2016 07:25,   

Updated August. 12, 2016 07:36


The UN Security Council had sought to adopt a statement condemning the launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea, but the council failed to adopt the statement as China insisted that it should include a passage opposing the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. During the emergency council meeting, which was convened quickly after the missile launched by the North fell into the waters of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the U.S. and Japan disclosed a draft expressing deep concerns about the provocation from North Korea. In response, China proposed to include language opposing the deployment of THAAD system in South Korea in the draft, and the adoption of a statement fell through as the U.S. and Japan refused to accept the demand.

Every time the North conducted a nuclear test or launched ballistic missiles, the UN Security Council adopted a statement. However, since the announcement on the deployment was made on July 8, the council has not been able to respond to the series of provocations from North Korea, such as the launch of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile on July 9 and the launch of a Rodong missile on July 19. If China, a permanent member of the UNSC, continues to refuse cooperation, adopting a statement on the North will be difficult. China’s attempt to equate the issue over the THAAD deployment with the nuclear tests and the launch of ballistic missiles from North Korea is simply absurd, given that the latter is a publicly perceived threat prohibited by a number of UNSC sanctions. The deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system is not even subject to UNSC sanctions.


After his recent visit to China, Rep. Shin Dong-geun of the Minjoo Party of Korea attended a panel discussion on Tuesday. The lawmaker said he heard about China’s intent to forge back a “blood alliance” with North Korea from Peking University, but he changed his words as China denied such story. Having fought on the side of North Korea during the Korean War, China signed the Sino-North Korea Mutual Aid and Cooperation Treaty in 1961, which allows automatic intervention from each party in case of emergency. Since North Korea began to conduct nuclear tests, however, China has not highlighted its close ties with Pyongyang. It is unclear if some Chinese officials did mention blood alliance with the North and quickly changed tack as it was against the official stance of the authorities, or it is just the case of a misunderstanding. Whichever it may be, clarification is necessary as it is a grave remark that will affect relations between South Korea and China.

China has often turned a blind eye to North Korea’s provocations as the regime’s strategic values still remain important to Beijing. Even in the wake of the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in 2010, China stopped the UNSC from adopting a statement stipulating North Korea as the perpetrator of the assault. China has allowed the North to enjoy immunity over its missile provocation on the pretext of implementation of a defense system. Naturally, the remarks on reviving “blood alliance” allegedly made by Chinese officials during a meeting with the Korean lawmakers carry a sense of premonition.

한기흥기자 eligius@donga.com