China deflects US criticism for failing to join in condemning North Korean attackBy Tini Tran, AP
Thursday, June 10, 2010
China rebuffs US criticism on NKorea
BEIJING — China said Thursday it has taken a “fair and responsible” attitude in dealing with North Korea’s alleged attack on a South Korean warship, batting aside criticism by a top U.S. military official that Beijing hasn’t done enough.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China’s goal has been “to safeguard peace and stability” on the Korean peninsula.
“All that we have done is based on this position, so we hope that all parties can understand that and cooperate with China to properly deal with this issue,” he told a regularly scheduled news conference.
Qin was speaking a day after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was disappointed by the international community’s “tepid” response to the North Korean attack in March on a South Korean warship, singling out China for not doing more.
Mullen made his comments in Washington D.C. at a dinner hosted by the Asia Society.
South Korea has asked the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea after an international investigation found that a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship in March, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang has denied responsibility and says any punishment will trigger war.
The U.S. and South Korea have been looking to China to approve some kind of international condemnation or punishment of the North. China is the communist North’s closest ally and largest patron, giving it economic and political influence over an otherwise reclusive and antagonistic regime.
However, China has refused to assign blame in the incident, with Qin saying Beijing “always follows a fair and responsible attitude and will decide our position according to the merits of the issues in a fair and objective way.”
Qin reiterated China’s call to all parties to “exercise calm and restraint so as not to further escalate the tensions and to safeguard the hard-won peace and stability on the peninsula.”
Mullen also expressed concern about China’s massive military buildup, saying there is a large gap between “China’s stated intent and its military programs.”
Qin defended the country’s military expansion, saying Beijing’s goal is a peaceful rise.
“China’s development does not pose a threat to any country,” he said. “We never seek hegemony. This is a solemn oath made by China to the world.”