The Chinese are at the centre of diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue of North Korea’s missile testing. Beijing has slapped down a Japanese resolution that would impose sanctions on Pyongyang, arguing it would amount to an “overreaction”. North Korea’s multiple missile launches last week exposed rifts between major powers over how to handle the secretive communist state.
The Chinese, who are holding ongoing talks with the North Koreans, managed to postpone a UN Security Council vote on the Japanese resolution, and have submitted their own draft, which is non-binding. Beijing fears a strongly-worded statement could be used to launch military action.
The US envoy on North Korea, Christopher Hill, is in Beijing. “We are in a rather crucial period, there was I think a very important decision to postpone the actual vote on the resolution because the Chinese government had an important diplomatic mission going on,” he said.
The Americans and British back the Japanese hard line on North Korea, but China and Russia, which want a softer approach, both have veto powers on the Security Council.