As global pressure mounted on North Korea after the UNSC imposed new sanctions, China on Sunday called on Pyongyang to halt its missile and nuclear tests and stop provoking "the international community's goodwill." Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he has urged his North Korean counterpart to abide by UN resolutions. Wang Yi was speaking to reporters in Manila after meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of a regional meeting.
“Do not violate the UN’s decision or provoke international society’s goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests,” Wang told Yong Ho.
Wang told reporters that the two had an intensive conversation during which China urged North Korea to maintain calm. Wang also urged the US and South Korea "to stop increasing tensions" and said that all sides should return to negotiations.
The development comes after UN Security Council unanimously backed a US-drafted resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korean exports in response to Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
New UNSC sanctions
The 15-member UNSC yesterday strongly condemned North Korea's ballistic missile launches on July 3 and 28 which the country has stated were of "intercontinental" range. The US-drafted resolution includes the strongest sanctions ever imposed in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test and targets its main exports, slashing their annual revenue by USD 1 billion.
"The Security Council increased the penalty of North Korea's ballistic missile activity to a whole new level. North Korea's irresponsible and careless acts have just proved to be quite costly to the regime.
"This resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime. The price the North Korean leadership will pay for its continued nuclear and missile development will be the loss of one-third of its exports and hard currency. This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation," US Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said.
China urges countries to resume talks
In an earlier statement on Sunday, Wang Yi appealed to other governments to resume the six-nation talks that involve the North, the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea, as well as Beijing.
“The aim is to bring the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table and seek a solution through negotiations until the denuclearization of the peninsula and the stability of the peninsula are achieved,” Wang said.
North Korea pulled out of the talks in 2009 to protest international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch. Last month, it test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
The Minister said both sanctions against North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes and resumption of the six-party talks were important and neither should be neglected.
He said China, as a permanent member of the UNSC, upheld an impartial and objective position and played a responsible and constructive role in the process of the adoption of the resolution.
Noting that sanctions were necessary but not the ultimate goal, the Minister said the measure aimed to bring parties concerned back to the negotiating table.
The UNSC has also called for resumption of the Six-Party Talks and has reiterated its support for the commitments set forth in the Joint Statement of September 2005 issued by China, North Korea, Japan, south Korea, Russia and the United States.
The commitments included that the goal of the Six-Party Talks is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, and that the United States and the North Korean respect each other's sovereignty and exist together peacefully.
US welcomes China’s cooperation
The Trump administration cautiously embraced China’s apparent newfound cooperation, while putting it on notice that the U.S. would be watching closely to ensure it didn’t ease up on Pyongyang if and when the world’s attention is diverted elsewhere. But there were no signs the U.S. would acquiesce to China’s call for a quick return to negotiations.
US President Donald Trump also praised Russia and North Korea's ally China for voting in favour of the sanctions.
"Trump commends the UN Security Council for passing a new resolution that increases sanctions on North Korea in response to its recent ballistic missile tests," the White House said.
Trump said China and Russia voted with the US to pass what he called "the single largest economic sanctions package ever" on North Korea.
"The President appreciates China's and Russia's cooperation in securing passage of this resolution," it added.
"He will continue working with allies and partners to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to end its threatening and destabilising behaviour," the White House said in a statement.