US envoys visit China on DPRK

Updated: 2016-01-20 23:06

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington(China Daily USA)

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Top US diplomats are busy visiting China in a bid to push China to endorse tougher economic sanctions on North Korea after its recent nuclear test.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with Chinese Executive Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, a former Chinese ambassador to the US.

Blinken's trip is believed to be a preparation for a trip to Beijing on Jan 27 by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has described the meeting between Zhang and Blinken as co-hosting the interim Strategic Security Dialogue. The formal Strategic Security Dialogue is usually held each summer as part of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, known as S&ED.

Blinken visited Japan and South Korea before going to China. The US and its two East Asia allies hope to push for a tougher UN Security Council resolution on further economic sanctions on North Korea.

One of the most sanctioned nations, North Korea is already under UN sanctions for its three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Hong said last Friday that China supports the UN Security Council in reacting to North Korea's nuclear test. "The relevant resolution should focus on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, prevention of nuclear proliferation, as well as the peace and stability of Northeast Asia," he said.

Asked on Monday about North Korea's statement about its proposal to stop nuclear tests in exchange for the US scrapping joint military drills with South Korea and the signing of a peace treaty between North Korea and the US, Hong said the Chinese side has always aimed to address both the symptoms and root causes of the Korean Peninsula issue with a holistic approach.

"We hope that all relevant parties can take a sober look at the current situation, stay on the path of resolving the issue through dialogue and consultations, meet each other halfway, properly address each other's concerns and strive for enduring peace and stability of the region with a concerted effort," he said.

Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies and director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he is not very hopeful for progress in China's position regarding North Korea.

"All the indications so far show Beijing leaning toward the stability leg of its policy tool, and not the denuclearization leg," he told China Daily on Tuesday.

"Moreover, I sensed testiness in China's responses to Secretary Kerry's impetuous public remarks about having tried China's policy approach and declaring that it failed," Paal added.

Kerry said in a phone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi early this month that China's approach to North Korea "has not worked and we cannot continue business as usual," a finger-pointing China has rejected.

China has long called for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks to deal with the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The talks have been suspended since late 2008.

It is believed that Taiwan and the South China Sea will be other major topics for Blinken and Kerry in Beijing. The US State Department said Blinken will also meet Zhang Zhijun, director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office.

Paal believes Blinken and Kerry will express the US commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and see whether or not China will show any flexibility toward the new Tsai Ing-wen administration.