China urges calm following North Korea's threats of another rocket launch in response to this week's Security Council resolution.
Beijing says it is urging resumption of the six-party talks in the wake of Pyongyang's threats. Earlier on Thursday, North Korea vowed to launch more long-range rockets and conduct a third nuclear test.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says the situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive. He says all parties should remain calm and avoid taking actions that will escalate the situation in the region.
North Korea released a statement through its state-run media in which the country’s National Defense Commission says it will launch satellites and rockets and conduct a nuclear test.
China has long been the North's strongest ally and in the United Nations has consistently supported dialogue about sanctions in dealing with the North's nuclear program. However, this week Beijing joined a U.N. Security Council resolution spearheaded by the United States which condemns North Korea’s December 12 rocket launch and tightens sanctions on North Korea.
China took part in consultations on the Security Council resolution, but has been opposed to new sanctions.
China also backed U.N. resolutions following North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Despite those measures, North Korea has proceeded with developing its rocket and nuclear programs, indicating that China's influence with its ostracized neighbor remains limited.
Lu Chao, a specialist in Korean Peninsula Studies at the Liaoning Social Science Academy, says China has made its position clear to North Korea that it should stop the rocket launches. But Lu points out that North Korea is a sovereign country and will likely take actions that are contrary to China’s wishes.
South Korean officials have said evidence following last month’s rocket launch indicates North Korea has developed parts of a long-range missile.