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China says willing to pay the price for new North Korea sanctions

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, is greeted by his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi prior to their bilateral meeting in the sidelines of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and its Dialogue Partners Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 in suburban Pasay city, south Manila, Philippines. Photo: AP

China will pay the biggest price from the new United Nations sanctions against North Korea because of its close economic relationship with the country, but will always enforce the resolutions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

The UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday that could slash its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.

Speaking at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday, Wang said the new resolution showed China and the international community's opposition to North Korea's continued missile tests, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Owing to China's traditional economic ties with North Korea, it will mainly be China paying the price for implementing the resolution," the statement cited Wang as saying.  
 
"But in order to protect the international non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will as before fully and strictly properly implement the entire contents of the relevant resolution."

China has repeatedly said it is committed to enforcing increasingly tough UN resolutions on North Korea, though it has also said what it terms "normal" trade and ordinary North Koreans should not be affected.

The latest UN resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the numbers of North Korean laborers currently working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

Wang said that apart from the new sanctions, the resolution also made clear that the six party talks process, a stalled dialogue mechanism with North Korea that also includes Russia and Japan, should be restarted.

That was promise that all Security Council members made, including China, Russia and the United States, and which ought to be carried out, Wang added.

Door open for dialogue with North Korea

Speaking at the same forum on Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a door open for dialogue with North Korea, saying Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it halted a series of recent missile test launches.

Tillerson's comments were the latest US attempt to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs after months of tough talk from US President Donald Trump.

"The best signal that North Korea can give us that they are prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches," said Tillerson, adding that "other means of communications" were open to Pyongyang. He also said any dialogue would deal with how North Korea can "feel secure and prosper economically."

Last week, Tillerson said North Korea needed to cease both its missile launches and nuclear weapons tests for talks to begin. It was not clear why he urged Pyongyang on Monday to halt only missile launches and the State Department did not respond to a request for clarification.

Navy drills a warning to North Korea

State-run CCTV reported on Monday that Chinese naval forces will conduct more than 10 kinds of drills and launch dozens of types of missiles during four days of live-fire exercises off the Korean peninsula.

The naval forces taking part in the exercises in the Yellow Sea would practice offensive and defensive manoeuvrers with surface ships, submarines, air support, and coastguard forces, according to the report.

The drills would mirror real combat conditions and test the troops' tactical, combat and weapons training, the report said.

The exercises included aerial interception and assaults by land and sea, it said.

The drills were taking place in the waters between the coast of Qingdao in Shandong province and Lianyungang in Jiangsu province, according to notices from the PLA Navy's North Sea Fleet and the Shandong Maritime Safety Administration.

Analysts said this week's show of force in the geostrategic area near the increasingly provocative North Korea was an unsurprising response to Pyongyang's July 28 missile test.

Malcolm Davis, a Chinese defense specialist at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the latest drill was essentially a warning to Pyongyang.

"(The Chinese) could be sending a message to the North Koreans that they will be effective in any conflict if war is to break out," he said.

Collin Koh, a maritime security expert at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said the drill was meant to deter various players on the Korean peninsula, including North Korea and the US.

Koh said the exercises were intended to help ward off a full-blown shooting war.
"States do this because they want to send a signal," he said. "It's not just targeted at North Korea."


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