China hit back on Tuesday in unusually strong terms after receiving repeated calls from the United States to put more pressure on North Korea, urging a halt to what it called the “China responsibility theory”, and saying all parties needed to pull their weight.
US President Trump took a more conciliatory tone at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, but has expressed some impatience that China, with its close economic and diplomatic ties to Pyongyang, is not doing enough to rein in North Korea.
That feeling has become particularly acute since Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts believe could have the range to reach Alaska and other parts of the US West Coast.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said it was not China ratcheting up tension and that the key to a resolution did not lie with Beijing.
“Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory’,” Geng said in a news briefing.
“I think this either shows lack of knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility.”
“Asking others to do work, but doing nothing themselves is not OK,” Geng added.
While China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, it also blames the United States and South Korea for worsening tension with their military exercises.
China has been upset with the US deployment of an advanced anti-missile system in South Korea too, which it says threatens its own security and will do nothing to ease tensions.
Additionally, Beijing has complained about Washington putting unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals for their dealings with North Korea.
Geng questioned how China’s efforts could bear fruit if, while it tried to put out the flames, others added oil to the fire, and if, while it enforced UN resolutions, others harmed its interests.