BEIJING— China’s foreign minister says sanctions are not the way to properly handle the North Korea nuclear issue and safeguard peace on the Korean peninsula.
China, the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday in support of a fresh round of sanctions. But China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi says dialogue is the only way to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue.
He called Saturday for calm and urged all sides to return to the long-stalled six-nation talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.
Yang says China has always believed that sanctions are not the end goal of the Security Council’s actions or the fundamental way to resolve the issue. Yang was speaking at an annual press conference held on the sidelines of the country’s legislative meetings, or National People’s Congress.
China is the North’s main economic ally, but says it wants the sanctions fully implemented.
The fresh sanctions include new measures to block bulk transfers of cash that are being used to support alleged illicit activities by the North, and further restricts ties to North Korea’s financial sector. They also call for a crackdown on suspicious cargo from the North, among other measures.
North Korea flatly rejected the sanctions on Saturday, and pledged to push ahead with its efforts to become a nuclear state.
Some analysts believe that Beijing’s support of the new round of sanctions is a sign it is growing increasingly frustrated with the North. Others, however, are skeptical how far Beijing will go to implement them.
Yang’s press conference lasted about an hour and a half, and touched on a wide range of topics from China’s relations with Russia, Africa and Europe.
He also responded to questions about tensions in other parts of the region such as Beijing’s territorial disputes with Japan and in the South China Sea.
Yang says the Asia Pacific region is where the Untied States and China have more converging interests and interaction than any other part of the world.
Yang says China welcomes a constructive role by the United States in the Asia Pacific region. At the same time, he says the U.S. needs to respect China’s interests and concerns.
Yang says that Asia Pacific affairs should be handled through consultations by all countries in the region.
Yang says China’s relations with countries in the region are basically stable. He says China’s trade of $1.2 trillion with its neighbors is greater than the country’s trade with Europe and the United States combined.
He also rejected accusations that China’s military was involved in a long-term hacking campaign that targeted the United States and other foreign targets.
Yang says there have been quite a few reports about hacker attacks recently that have, as he put it, “picked on China.” He says that while some may have considered the reports to be eye-catching, they are actually built on shaky ground.
Yang is the highest-level Chinese official to comment on claims that were outlined last month in a report by U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant. The report traced hacking attacks back to a military unit based in Shanghai.
Yang says China is a major target of attacks and that it supports regulations under the United Nations to keep the Internet safe, free and peaceful.