China and North Korea: Whose side is China on? How will Beijing act now?
Pyongyang has slammed ‘reckless moves’ by the US and pledged to defend the North Korea from invasion ‘by powerful force of arms’, according to the nation's state media.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying: “We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions.”
Tensions have escalated after America bombed a Syrian airbase last week and deployed a US Navy strike group was towards the Korean peninsula in a show of force.
Donald Trump has also pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to rein in North Korea, which sends a vast majority of its exports to its giant neighbour across the Yellow Sea.
After the leaders met in Florida last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the press that Mr Jinping understands that “action has to be taken” to address the North Korea threat.
But Mr Xi conspicuously did not make any public commitment on North Korea. During his visit, the Syrian airbase bombing showed the US is willing to use force to enforce international norms.
On Monday China and South Korea agreed to slap tougher sanctions on North Korea if the country carries out nuclear or long-range missile tests, according to an official in Seoul.
Although China has long been North Korea’s most important trading partner and ally, it is now taking a tough line on Kim Jung-un’s reclusive regime.
Former MI6 head John Sawers has said that there needs to be a joint US-China response to deal with North Korea in order to avoid conflict on the peninsula.
“The Chinese have taken a tougher approach on North Korea recently,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
“They have enforced more strict sanctions on the North Korean regime. There is a rather frosty approach by Beijing to Kim Jung-un.”
He said there is “common ground” between the US and China because neither of the countries want North Korea to have nuclear weapons.
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He added: “I think what the Chinese are beginning to understand is that if this can’t be solved peaceably through negotiations, through pressure, then there is serious risk that the US will have only one option left, which is the military option.”
Inside North Korea: The pictures Kim Jong-un doesn't want you to see
Mon, April 10, 2017
Since 2008, photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi
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Taking pictures in the DMZ is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
A fleet of North Korean cargo ships, mainly fully laden, are heading home after China told its trading companies to return coal from the isolated country, shipping data shows.
Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on in February cutting off the country's most important export product.
China's customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, trading sources told Reuters.
In February North Korean state media accused Beijing of “dancing to the tune of the US” and “styling itself as a big power” after China suspended coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year.
“Its recent measures are, in effect, tantamount to the enemies’ moves to bring down the social system,” the report said.