Beijing concerned about rising tensions in North Korea, says envoy in Seoul

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – Beijing is concerned about the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, China’s envoy for Korean affairs said when he arrived for talks in Seoul this week, adding that the symptoms and the root cause of the tensions.

Amid stalled denuclearization talks, North Korea has conducted a series of weapons tests this year, ranging from hypersonic missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

North Korea had not tested ICBMs or nuclear weapons since 2017. Officials in Seoul and Washington say there are signs of readiness for another nuclear test.

The “legitimate and reasonable concerns of all parties” must be acknowledged for there to be a political settlement, Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese government’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, told reporters on Sunday.

“We call on all parties to maintain a level head and exercise restraint, and we disapprove of (the) actions of any party that could escalate tensions,” he said in a summary of his comments on Twitter.

In his first visit to South Korea since taking office in April 2021, Liu is due to meet his South Korean counterpart, nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk, on Tuesday. He may also meet with representatives of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who will take office on May 10, Yonhap news agency reported.

The United States has pushed for more United Nations sanctions against the North. But China and Russia have signaled their opposition, arguing that sanctions should be eased to revive talks and provide humanitarian aid to the impoverished North.

The problems on the peninsula can be resolved politically and China will continue to play a “positive role”, Liu said.

However, the key to solving the problems is in the hands of North Korea and the United States, he added.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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