China pulls rug from UN condemnation of North’s launch

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China pulls rug from UN condemnation of North’s launch

The UN Security Council failed to adopt a statement Tuesday condemning two ballistic missile launches by North Korea last week due to China’s insistence that it include a denunciation of the deployment of an American missile defense system in South Korea.

The failure came a week after Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles, both of which appeared to be Rodong-class, which have a range of up to 1,300 kilometers (807 miles). One appeared to have exploded shortly after the launch while the other flew about 1,000 kilometers before falling into the East Sea.

The launches were condemned, especially by Japan, as the missile fell into waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which has not happened before.

According to news agency AFP, the Chinese delegation to the Security Council insisted on adding the passage: “All relevant parties shall avoid taking any actions which could provoke each other and escalate tensions, and shall not deploy any new antiballistic missile stronghold in Northeast Asia with an excuse of dealing with threats of the DPRK nuclear and missile programmes.” DPRK is an acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

Beijing was referring to Seoul and Washington’s decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) battery in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, by the end of next year.

Concerns are on the rise in South Korea that the Thaad deployment will alienate Beijing and force it to take North Korea’s side in the future. Beijing believes the Thaad battery will be used by the U.S. to monitor its air space. It has warned that the presence of Thaad would harm bilateral relations and maintains the system’s capabilities far exceed South Korea’s needs to counter North Korea’s missile threats.

Relations between the two neighbors have gotten chillier since Seoul made its decision on Thaad on July 8, following months of consultation with Washington and instant condemnation by the Chinese state media.

A series of cancellations of concerts by Korean pop celebrities have alarmed entertainment agencies, sparking worries that Beijing is retaliating in ways that hurt their businesses and the Korean economy.

The Blue House in Seoul called such actions “unreasonable” and suggested Beijing try to rein in Pyongyang more aggressively.

Seoul also refutes Beijing’s claim that the advanced radar system would be used against China, saying it is in purely defense.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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