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(LEAD) China urges restraint as N. Korea fires short-range projectiles

All Headlines 17:11 March 03, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS quotes, details in paras 3-5, last 4 paras)

BEIJING, March 3 (Yonhap) -- China called for calm and restraint on Thursday as North Korea fired short-range projectiles into the sea, in an apparent show of defiance hours after the U.N. Security Council approved tougher sanctions over its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.

"We hope that relevant parties can keep calm, exercise restraint and refrain from taking actions that may escalate tensions," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Hong, however, stopped short of condemning North Korea for firing the projectiles. Asked whether China condemns the show of force, Hong repeated the answer, without naming the North by name.

Hong said the new U.N. resolution could be thoroughly implemented, but it should not affect the "normal lives" of the North Korean people.

"We hope that the resolution can be fully and earnestly implemented," Hong said. "Meanwhile, efforts shall be made to avoid impact on people's well-being and humanitarian needs of North Korea, which are also an important part of the resolution."

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted the tougher sanctions in response to North Korea's fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and rocket launch on Feb. 6, but China's cooperation is the key to the effective implementation of the measures.

The latest U.N. resolution on North Korea is being described as the toughest-ever sanctions, but some analysts pointed out that it has some key loopholes.

One of potential loopholes is a provision that would allow North Korea to continue exports of coal and iron ore if such transactions are for "livelihood purposes."

Winning China's cooperation is key to ensuring the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions against North Korea because China accounts for nearly 90 percent of the North's foreign trade.

Still, China is unlikely to vigorously implement sanctions on North Korea because a sudden collapse of the regime could spark a refugee crisis at its border and lead to a pro-U.S., democratic Korea on its doorstep, analysts say.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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