February 3, 2016 6:02 am

China urges restraint over North Korea rocket launch

In this image made from video, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.

AP Photo/KRT via AP Video
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BEIJING – China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday called for all sides to show restraint over North Korea’s announcement that it plans to launch a rocket in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang also expressed skepticism over calls by the U.S. for tough new sanctions against North Korea over its Jan. 6 nuclear test.

“We hope all sides show restraint and take prudent action to avoid any moves that may increase the tensions on the (Korean) Peninsula,” Lu told reporters at a regularly scheduled news briefing.

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Lu’s comments come as U.S. diplomats are urging China to use its political and economic influence with North Korea to compel it to stop such actions.

China has pushed back against U.S. calls for tougher sanctions. Foreign Minister Wang Yi argued during a visit last week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that sanctions are not an end unto themselves and any new U.N. resolution should not provoke new tensions.

Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is the shared responsibility and common interest of all parties, Lu said.

“China will engage in contact and co-ordination with each related side, and play a constructive role in maintaining the peace and stability of the peninsula and this region,” he said.

North Korea’s announcement came during a visit to Pyongyang by China’s top envoy to North Korea, Wu Dawei. That could be seen as a snub to Beijing, North Korea’s most important ally which, nevertheless, has been unable to restrain Pyongyang’s actions.

Lu said only that Wu was in Pyongyang for the purpose of “exchanging views with the North Korea side over the current situation of the Korean Peninsula.”

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