China urged the United State to resume negotiations with North Korea and dial back military deployments to the region, minutes after backing a new round of sanctions on the pariah state.
A new United Nations Security Council resolution, drafted by the United States in consultation with China, could cut North Korean exports by $1 billion, about one-third of the country's annual exports. But China, which has long provided economic lifelines to the regime despite earlier U.N. sanctions, suggested that the resolution imposes obligations on the United States as well.
"It calls for the resumption of six-party talks, commits to finding a resolution through peaceful diplomatic and political means, and it stresses the importance of deescalating tensions on the peninsula by the parties concerned," Liu Jieyi, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, said at Saturday's meeting. "China believes that these [provisions] are part and parcel of this resolution and all the parties should implement the provisions contained in the resolution fully and earnestly."
President Trump's team maintains that they will not hold direct talks with North Korea until the regime agrees that the negotiations will end with the dismantlement of their nuclear weapons program.
"We don't think having a dialogue where the North Koreans come to the table assuming they're going to maintain their nuclear weapons is productive," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Tuesday. "We would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea, but that will then promote economic prosperity throughout Northeast Asia."
Liu alluded to those comments and said that the United States needs to take concrete steps to prove their sincerity. He took particular aim at American military exercises with South Korea and the deployment of a missile defense system that China fears could be used against their own weapons. "Beefing up a military deployment around the peninsula is not in the interests of realizing denuclearization of the peninsula and maintaining peace and stability," he said.
Russia's representative to the security council blamed the U.S. more bluntly. "All must understand that progress towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be difficult so long as [the North Korean regime] perceives a direct threat to its own security," Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia said. "For that is how the North Koreans view the military build up in the region, which takes on the forms of frequent, wide-ranging exercises and maneuvers of the U.S. and allies as they deploy strategic bombers, naval forces, and aircraft carriers."
Trump has authorized various shows of force, in addition to regularly scheduled exercises between South Korea and the United States, in response to a spate of North Korean missile tests. "We're trying to convey to the North Koreans we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond," Tillerson said.