China mulls no-naming UN censure

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China mulls no-naming UN censure

China is looking at how the United Nations’ censured Israel for an attack on a Turkish aid flotilla as it gropes for a diplomatic way to rebuke North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan without hurting relations with its closest ally, according to government sources yesterday.

The UN Security Council issued a statement on June 1, one day after the incident, condemning “acts” that led to the death of nine aid workers trying to break through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

China wants the UNSC to take a similar line against North Korea, government sources said. The Cheonan, a South Korean warship, was sunk on March 26 by what South Korea believes was a North Korea torpedo, killing 46 of its sailors. Seoul has asked the Council to censure the North.

“China is showing an attitude that it wants the UNSC to deal with the Cheonan case at a similar level to the one at which it condemned Israel for the use of force on the ships carrying aid to Palestinians on May 31,” said the source. In the June 1 statement, the UNSC condemned “acts” by Israel, diluting demands for a direct condemnation of Israel, which claimed its forces acted in self-defense.

Another government source said China is still reluctant to be too hard on North Korea at the UN because it’s worried about Pyongyang’s reaction.

“A UNSC statement without any mention of North Korea is a preposterous demand for [South] Korea,” said an official of the government, requesting anonymity. “Our goal is to draw a resolution or a statement naming and condemning North Korea.”

The council’s decision on the Cheonan incident is unlikely to be concluded this month as ambassadors of the 15 member countries leave today for Afghanistan for a weeklong security tour.


By Kang Chan-ho, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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