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Global Insights: Parsing China’s North Korea Policy

Richard Weitz Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013

At a press briefing Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded to North Korea’s Feb. 12 nuclear test by calling for all parties to avoid taking action that could worsen the situation on the Korean Peninsula. While China expressed its opposition to the test, Beijing also stated its desire to see an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks seeking a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and called for the Security Council to adopt measures that would seek “realization of denuclearization, nonproliferation, and peace and stability on the peninsula.” Meanwhile, Chinese news commentary blamed U.S. intransigence as much as DPRK recklessness for the latest crisis.

Beijing’s reluctance to impose severe sanctions on North Korea despite its recent nuclear test should not be surprising. Despite their irritation with the North Korean regime, most Chinese officials appear more concerned about the potential collapse of the North Korean state than about its pursuit of nuclear and missile programs. ...

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