Last Tuesday, a short-range rocket launched by North Korea passed through the route of a China Southern Airlines passenger jet headed from Narita to Shenyang just seven minutes ahead of the airliner. This near-miss has provoked stern comments from South Korea, but almost nothing from the Chinese side.
According to a report by Yonhap News Agency, at around 4:17 pm on Tuesday the DPRK launched three projectiles with a range of around 155 km from Wonsan on its southeastern coast. It was one of these missiles that crossed right through the commercial airliner’s trajectory just minutes before the plane itself did.
South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said: “The rocket could have hit the plane on its way down…North Korea had not given any warning. It was an unexpected and immoral act that goes against international norms.”
These launchings ride in the wake of U.S.-South Korea military drills that began on February 24th. These drills, which involve computer war-games and field training, have been denounced by the DPRK as a “rehearsal for war” and “pretext for an invasion of North Korea.”
China, however, has been doing its best to get all sides to put down the fighting gloves and chill out. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: “We urge all relevant parties to exercise restraint, calm down and be discreet in words and deeds so as to avoid progressive escalation of tension.” China Southern Airlines’ PR department has not said one word on the matter, instead deciding to keep quiet.
For more on China getting the DPRK’s back (regardless of whether or not it involves the near-deaths of 220 airline passengers), check out these photos from the China-DPRK Friendship Photography Exhibition that opened in Dandong last year.