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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 24)

Diplomacy 07:01 November 24, 2022

Stop siding with North Korea
: China, Russia hit for opposing more sanctions

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has failed to take action against North Korea's recent missile provocations due to opposition from China and Russia. The North has fired 63 ballistic missiles this year alone, including eight intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), all in violation of UNSC resolutions. Despite 10 UNSC sessions convened so far this year to discuss the issue, the U.N. has failed to take punitive measures against Pyongyang, due to vetoes by China and Russia. It could not even issue a statement condemning the North for its provocations.

When North Korea succeeded in its sixth nuclear test and ICBM launch in 2017, the U.N. passed a resolution vowing to take retaliatory steps against the North in case it attempts another ICBM launch. At that time, China and Russia also supported the resolution. Yet, they have been opposing additional sanctions this time, as they did so in May, when they failed to abide by their earlier pledges. China's siding with the North is also regrettable, given that President Yoon Suk-yeol called on Beijing to play a more proactive role in deterring the North's provocations during his summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Nov. 15.

China called on the U.S. to take the initiative, show sincerity and put forward realistic proposals to address the "legitimate concerns" of the North. Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Zhang Jun asked the U.S. to take practical actions in "stopping military exercises and easing sanctions" against the North.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement calling on the North "to immediately desist from taking further provocative actions." North Korea strongly criticized Guterres, billing him as "a puppet" of the United States. "I often take the U.N. secretary-general for a member of the U.S.," North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said in a statement.

China and Russia seem to back the North in an apparent bid to foment a new Cold War scheme by solidifying ties among them against the alliance of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. China is in confrontation with the U.S. over Taiwan, while Russia is waging a war against Ukraine. Given this, they seem to be letting the North continue its attempts to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.

Yet, it remains uncertain whether the situation will evolve as China and Russia expect. They might bear the brunt of North Korea's future provocations. North Korea will likely carry out its seventh nuclear test soon. The Kim Jong-un regime is desperate for his country to obtain the status of a nuclear-armed state. Its further provocations will prompt the U.S. to deploy more strategic military assets on the peninsula and trigger a debate over a possible nuclear armament of South Korea aside from the sharing or redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. Such responses will escalate tensions with North Korea, China and Russia. Beijing and Moscow should reconsider their policy toward Pyongyang to avoid destabilizing the region further.
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