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China To N Korea: Don’t Conduct 2nd Nuke Test

From the UK's Telegraph:

China’s State Councillor and former Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan (3rd L, front row) poses with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (4th R, front row) in Pyongyang, North Korea on October 19, 2006.

China tells Kim not to carry out second nuclear test

By Richard Spencer in Beijing

China delivered a blunt message to North Korea yesterday when it told its leader, Kim Jong-il, that he must not proceed with a second nuclear weapons test.

After China's state media suggested for the first time that Beijing might sever North Korea's oil supplies, a move which could conceivably precipitate the collapse of Kim's regime, a senior envoy arrived in Pyongyang to hand down a "personal message" from China's president, Hu Jintao.

China did not confirm what the message said, but American officials said they believed it to be a strongly worded warning…

Satellite pictures this week spotted signs of activity around the site of last week's test, leading to suggestions that a second might be imminent. Kim has shown no signs of bowing to pressure other than agreeing to the meeting yesterday.

Kim's meeting with Tang Jiaxuan, a Chinese state councillor and former foreign minister, was his first with any representative of the outside world since North Korea conducted its test last week.

That he agreed to meet Mr Tang could be a sign that he is starting to feel pressure from the international community. He has been known to snub even senior Chinese leaders. "It's a sign that they are at least engaging," said one western diplomat…

A sign of serious deterioration in the relationship was provided by the overseas edition of the Communist Party mouthpiece, People's Daily.

"North Korea's nuclear test touched China's warning line," said the paper. "If North Korea doesn't cease from behaviour that might worsen the situation… China might stop providing oil and grain to North Korea."

The threat was contributed by a senior researcher at a government think-tank. Although it represented his personal opinion, the newspaper has historically been used by the party to hint at changes of policy and the piece was unlikely to have been published without serious consideration of its implications.

Three years ago, China briefly cut off North Korea's supplies of oil, of which it provides about 90 per cent, to persuade it to join talks on its nuclear weapons programme. China is also thought to provide half of North Korea's grain imports.

If this is actually China’s official position, it's a pretty encouraging development.

Though, as the article points out, the Chinese have spanked North Korea before.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 19th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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