Geum Yi

UN resolution must not affect normal life of N. Korean people: China

February 26, 2016

BEIJING (Yonhap) — A draft U.N. resolution aimed at imposing more stringent sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests should not affect the “normal life” of North Korean people, China’s foreign ministry said Friday.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the new U.N. resolution must focus on preventing North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs.

“The Chinese side believes that the relevant sanctions should focus on curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” Hong told a daily press briefing. “Sanctions should not affect the normal life of North Korean people.”

The draft resolution came after an agreement was reached between the United States and China, which has been reluctant to put crippling economic sanctions against North Korea due to fears over a collapse of the North Korean economy.

For the first time, the draft calls for the U.N. Security Council to impose “sectoral sanctions on the DPRK (North Korea) — limiting, and in some instances banning outright, exports from the DPRK of coal, iron, gold, titanium, and rare earth minerals,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told reporters in New York on Thursday.

If adopted, the draft resolution would impose financial sanctions targeting North Korean banks and assets, and ban aviation and rocket fuel supplies from going to the North.

China accounts for nearly 90 percent of North Korea’s total trade and the proposed sanctions did not prohibit civilian trade. The draft would also allow states to charter vessels or aircraft by North Korea if those services are for “livelihood purposes.”

A diplomatic source in Beijing that it would be difficult to determine what “livelihood purposes” are in bilateral trade between North Korea and China.

“Although the draft resolution is a strong one, but it remains to be seen whether it can really bite,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

A vote on the new U.N. resolution on North Korea is expected over the weekend.

Hong said sanctions are not the best way of making North Korea change its course.

“We believe that sanctions are not the fundamental purpose,” Hong said. “What is imperative, at this moment, is to bring all parties to the negotiating table.”

Hong reiterated a proposal by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and efforts to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War should be pursued at the same time, echoing a demand by North Korea. The Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

“The parallel track approach is a reasonable one. It highlights the overriding goal of denuclearizing the peninsula at the same time it seeks to address the major concerns of the various parties,” Hong said.