China stands with North Korea and criticises US threats
Published 09/12/2010 | 14:28
China has hit back at US criticism over North Korea saying military threats are not the answer.
The message came as China's most senior diplomat, Dai Bingguo, met with Kim Jong-il in a sign of Beijing's deep and continuing support for North Korea.
In the first meeting between the two allies since North Korea shelled a South Korean island at the end of last month, Mr Dai was reported to have presented Kim with presents and a greeting from Hu Jintao, the Chinese president.
Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, described their meeting as "candid" and that the two men had agreed to boost their "friendly and co-operative relations".
North Korea, which has barely any other allies, depends heavily on China for aid and diplomatic support. Mr Dai had previously delayed his visit, in the light of the ongoing tension on the Korean peninsula, and his decision to visit Pyongyang was a strong gesture of support.
China's ties with North Korea have drawn increasing criticism from the United States, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarked on Wednesday that he wished the Chinese would be more helpful.
"The Chinese have enormous influence over the North, influence that no other nation on earth enjoys. And yet, despite a shared interest in reducing tensions, they appear unwilling to use it," he said.
In response, the Chinese Foreign ministry questioned on Thursday what Mr Mullen had ever done "for peace and stability in the region".
"We hope parties concerned... take a responsible attitude, act cautiously and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability," the spokesman said.
Adm Mullen said that Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, would visit China next month.
A team of US diplomats, led by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, plans to visit China next week, in part to convey a message of concern to Beijing.
"It is critically important that China continue to play a strong role making clear to North Korea that there are consequences for its actions," said Mr Steinberg.