China defends North Korea for nuclear programme activity, Why?

The focus has come on China after reports emerged about North Korea all set to conduct its 7th nuclear test. China which has been maintaining friendly terms and conditions with North Korea for over 60 years, kept a close watch on its friendly country especially after South Korean spy agency reported that North Korea may conduct a 7th nuclear test.

But foreign affairs experts on China affairs have doubts over China’s intention to takeany stand against DPRK because of the past experience. According to them, China had voiced opposition to North Korea’s test of a new ballistic missile in February 2017 more than 24 hours after reports of the launch emerged. It shrugged off suggestions it should be doing more to intervene in the rogue state’s military affairs, pinning the test down to Pyongyang’s testy relations with Washington and Seoul. It rejected criticism that it could do more to steer the regime away from its goal of developing a nuclear weapon capable of striking the US mainland.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield has now accused China of protecting Pyongyang stating that China and Russia have “bent over backwards” to justify repeated violations of UN sanctions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Greenfield further stated that North Korea’s “staggering 59 ballistic missile launches this year,” including 13 since October 27 and one that made an “unprecedented impact” about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from South Korea’s shore, are about more than advancing Pyongyang’s military capabilities and seek to raise tensions and stoke fear in its neighbours. China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun refuted the charge stating that the DPRK missile launches were directly linked to the re-launch of large-scale US-South Korean military exercises after a five-year break, with hundreds of warplanes involved. He also pointed to the US Defence Department’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review which he said envisaged the DPRK’s use of nuclear weapons and claimed that ending the DPRK regime is one of the strategy’s main goals.

After North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006, the Security Council had imposed sanctions and tightened them over the years seeking to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut off funding. In May, however, China and Russia blocked the Security Council resolution that would have
toughened sanctions over the missile launches, in the first serious rift on the council over the sanctions against North Korea.

The United States and its allies had a clash with China and Russia, accusing them of preventing action by the United Nations Security Council against North Korea for its escalating ballistic missile launches. North Korea has conducted a record number of missile launches in recent past, including an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), bringing the total number of missiles fired to more than 60 so far this year.

Ignoring North Korea’s conduct, China along with Russia, whose relations with the West have severely deteriorated over its invasion of Ukraine, told the UN meeting that the US was to blame for the ongoing tension with North Korea.

China has maintained cordial relations with North Korea for mover 60 years. It had signed a treaty of friendship Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with DPRK in 1951. The treaty aims to strengthen China-DPRK friendly cooperation and safeguard regional peace and stability. Guided by the spirit of the Treaty, China and North Korea have been supporting and collaborating closely with each other over the past 60 years. The Treaty “has not only given a strong boost to the causes of socialist construction of the two countries, but also made important contributions to the regional and global peace and stability,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang.

It may be noted here that when North Korea carried out its last nuclear test on September 3, 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping was busy preparing to host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa at a summit meant to burnish his image as a global statesman ahead of a critical Chinese Communist Party (CCP) congress.

When Pyongyang had conducted sixth test it had triggered an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 that shook homes along the North Korea-China border and revived fears of nuclear contamination in the area. It had also shifted the slopes of the mountain where North Korea’s underground test sites were located by up to 3.5 metres (11.5 feet). Pyongyang had declared a “perfect success” of the test which involved a hydrogen bomb, capped months of accelerating weapons launches, including that of long-range missiles capable of hitting continental United States.

Analysts in US had condemned the atomic test and termed it as an “insult” to Beijing, which has long been North Korea’s chief ally and its primary trade partner, as well as a “diplomatic embarrassment” for Xi, who at the time was set to be confirmed for a second term as the Communist Party’s leader. There is a fear that North Korea may not listen to China on the nuclear test issue. However China would prefer to avoid embarrassing situation. Meanwhile, Chinese experts have blamed US South Korea for prevailing tension on the Korean Peninsula.

They said that the situation escalated to fresh heights recently when North Korea launched multiple missiles after a US-South Korea military drills kicked off. Chinese experts believe that the missile launches are in response to South Korean-US joint deterrence efforts, and that past experience has shown that increasing military deterrence against North Korea only provokes a tougher response from Pyongyang. Such statements are a testimony of the fact that China has been batting for North Korea with which it wants to maintain cordial and friendly relations under all circumstances.