On Monday, North Korea carried out yet more missile tests, launching four missiles into the Sea of Japan with three landing within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The launches put China in a difficult position once again. While criticizing the move, China’s Foreign Ministry also urged restraint in the region, partly blaming the United States and South Korea for the tests.
“China is opposed to the DPRK’s launches in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing on Monday. “Under current circumstances, relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid anything that would provoke each other or heighten regional tensions.”
Geng added that North Korea had expressed its opposition to annual joint military exercises carried out by Washington and Seoul last week, which had likely provoked the launches. Pyongyang views the drills as a dress rehearsal for the eventual invasion of North Korea.
But the launches also occurred as China’s top political brass are meeting in Beijing for the annual legislative sessions, a sensitive time of the year, that Beijing does not like disturbed.
Last month, Beijing responded to North Korean missile tests by banning coal imports from the DPRK for the rest of the year, cutting off a significant portion of the hermit kingdom’s foreign income. In response, Pyongyang fired back, accusing its only ally of “dancing to the tune of the US.”
China has been trying hard to get all parties back to the negotiating table, and these latest tests are not going to help those efforts. They also will likely fail to convince Seoul that its planned US-backed THAAD missile defense system is not necessary.
Beijing has not exactly shown restraint in its opposition to the missile system, which it views as a threat to its own national security, taking a number of petty “countermeasures” such as closing down 23 supermarkets owned by South Korean Lotte Group, banning travel agencies from sending tour groups to South Korea, and keeping out Kpop performers.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat