- China agrees that further sanctions against North Korea needed
- N.Korea oil, textiles, offshore workers targeted for sanctions
- China is by far North Korea's biggest trading partner
- THAAD anti-missile system deployed amid protest in S.Korea
- Thirty protesters hurt in clashes with South Korean police
China said on Thursday it agreed the United Nations Security Council should take further actions against North Korea in the wake of its latest nuclear test, while continuing to push for more dialog to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Pressure from Washington has ratcheted up since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday. That test, along with a series of missile launches, showed Pyongyang was close to achieving its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon that could reach the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump has urged China to do more to rein in its neighbor, which has pursued its weapons programs in defiance of U.N. sanctions and international condemnation.
China said on Thursday it hoped North Korea refrained from further challenging the international consensus.
“Given the new developments on the Korean peninsula, China agrees that the UN Security Council should make a further response and take necessary measures,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters, without elaborating.
“Any new actions taken by the international community against the DPRK should serve the purpose of curbing the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs, while at the same time be conducive to restarting dialog and consultation,” he said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
China is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92 percent of two-way trade last year. It also provides tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had an executive order ready for Trump to sign that would impose sanctions on any country that trades with Pyongyang if the United Nations does not put additional sanctions on North Korea.
Amid the rising tensions, Seoul installed the four remaining launchers of the U.S. anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on a former golf course in the south early on Thursday. Two launchers had already been deployed.
More than 30 people were wounded when around 8,000 South Korean police broke up a blockade of about 300 villagers and civic groups opposed to the THAAD system deployment, fire officials said.
“It is very unfortunate there some wounded, but it was an inevitable choice in order to protect the lives of the people in this situation made serious by North Korea’s recent nuclear test,” South Korean Interior and Safety Minister Kim Boo-kyum told reporters.
The decision to deploy the THAAD system has drawn strong objections from China, which believes its radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance.
China said it had lodged another stern protest over the THAAD deployment on Thursday.
“We again urge South Korea and the United States to take seriously China’s and regional nations’ security interests and concerns, stop the relevant deployment progress, and remove the relevant equipment,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular media briefing.
“China has already lodged stern representations with South Korea over this,” he said.
MOON, ABE MEET
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke at a regional meeting in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and agreed to try to persuade China and Russia to cut off oil to North Korea as much as possible, according to South Korean officials.
The European Union’s foreign and defense ministers will discuss further sanctions for North Korea on Thursday, the bloc’s top diplomat said ahead of an EU ministers’ meeting in the Estonian capital.
However, sanctions have so far done little to stop North Korea boosting its nuclear and missile capacity as it faces off with Trump.
China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and South Korea would stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs, but neither side appears willing to budge.
South Korean Marines wrapped up a three-day firing drill on Thursday aimed at protecting its islands just south of the border with North Korea, while the air force will finish up a week-long drill on Friday.
North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.
South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.