China leans toward South Korea's view of Cheonan warship sinking
Is China leaning toward supporting sanctions against North Korea? China’s Premier Wen Jiabao discussed with South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak the evidence of the Cheonan warship sinking. Japan, China, and South Korea meet this weekend.
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China spoke to Kim Jong-il about the attack
Analysts here say that China is well aware of North Korea’s role – and that China’s President Hu Jintao communicated his concerns to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il before receiving Mr. Kim in Beijing earlier this month.Skip to next paragraph
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China’s President Hu Jintao spoke on the telephone with Kim Jong-il telling him he knew that Mr. Kim had ordered the sinking of the ship, according to Ha Tae Keung, president of Open Radio for North Korea. “He warned Kim Jong-il not to violate the stability of the Korean peninsula.”
Mr. Ha, whose short-wave station beams two hours a day of news and commentary into North Korea, says he got that information, and much more, from sources inside North Korea. His station runs a website that regularly carries reports passed on by clandestine cell phone calls from contacts inside North Korea or by messages from people crossing the Yalu or Tumen River border into China.
China has been loathe to join nations around the world in criticizing North Korea for the incident. Its ties to Pyongyang go back to the Korean War, in which Chinese troops drove US and South Korean forces from the Yalu River and rescued the North Korean regime. China, pumping food and military materiel into the North, has been keeping the ruined North Korean economy on life support ever since the failure of communism in the former Soviet Union ended Soviet and East bloc aid in the early 1990s.
More meetings this weekend
“China's unwillingness has been a key stumbling block for South Korea's plan to bring the case to the UN Security Council for sanctions,” according to an analysis by Yonhap. “Support from Beijing is crucial as the nation is one of five Council members that could block any Council move.”
The fact that Premier Wen is spending so much time here, however, suggests his desire to placate South Korean sensitivities.
He and President Lee are talking again on Saturday along with Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in an extraordinary three-way summit on the resort island of Jeju, off South Korea’s southern coast. Mr. Hatoyama has already added his voice to the chorus of condemnation of North Korea, and Japan on Friday strengthened its own sanctions on dealings with the North.
“Tensions go up and down,” says Mr. Breen, visiting Jeju. “China will play a let’s-calm-down role.”
- South Korea's detailed account of how torpedo sank Cheonan
- Tensions rise at the DMZ between North Korea and South Korea
- South Korea news coverage