China stands to lose the most from new United Nations sanctions against North Korea because of its close economic ties with the country, but is prepared to pay the price, Beijing's foreign minister has said.
Speaking at a security forum in Manila, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the new UN Security Council resolution approved over the weekend that aims to slash North Korea's exports by about a third showed China's commitment to stopping Pyongyang's missile tests, the Foreign Ministry said on August 8.
"Owing to China's traditional economic ties with North Korea, it will mainly be China paying the price for implementing the resolution," Wang was quoted as saying.
"But in order to protect the international nonproliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will as before fully and strictly properly implement the entire contents of the relevant resolution."
China has supported increasingly tough UN sanctions on North Korea's government pushed by the United States, though it has also said that "normal" trade with ordinary North Koreans should not be affected.
The latest UN resolution bans the purchase of North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead, and seafood. And in a provision aimed primarily at China and Russia, it prohibits countries from taking in any more North Korean migrant workers.
Wang pointed out that the sanctions resolution also calls for restarting six-party talks, a stalled dialogue process with North Korea that includes the United States, South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan.
To that end, Wang noted that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated U.S. willingness to resume dialogue with North Korea if it stops missile tests.
Tillerson also recently sought to allay some North Korean concerns about U.S. intentions by saying the United States does not seek regime change, the collapse of the government, an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, or an excuse to send the U.S. military into North Korea, Wang said, describing those stipulations as the "four nos."
Wang said he was looking for Pyongyang to make a similar gesture. China "hopes North Korea can echo this signal from the United States," he said.
North Korea's top diplomat gave no sign at the Manila forum that the country would be willing to abandon its missile tests and resume dialogue, however.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on August 7 that "under no circumstances" would Pyongyang put its nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles on the negotiating table.
Ri said his country had no intention of using nuclear weapons against any country "except the U.S." He said the only way that would change was if another country joined in a U.S. military action against North Korea.
Ri blamed the Korean Peninsula crisis entirely on Washington. He said the North was "ready to teach the U.S. a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force."
The sanctions were passed by the UN Security Council in response to Pyongyang's test-launch last month of two intercontinental ballistic missiles, taking a significant step toward its goal of developing a long-range missile capable of striking anywhere in the mainland United States.
With reporting by AP and Reuters