U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed China Wednesday to step up pressure on North Korea after its recent nuclear test and tone down its aggressive actions in the South China Sea.
Kerry met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and spent more than four hours with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other senior officials.
North Korea and its intention to develop a thermonuclear weapon topped the agenda, said Kerry at a joint press conference with Wang.
“This is a threat to any nation in the world,” he said. “So let me be clear, Kim Jong Un’s actions are reckless and dangerous.”
Wang said that North Korea had violated sanctions and agreed that the UN Security Council had to pass a new resolution but said any new resolution “must not provoke new tensions.”
Washington wants Beijing to support more robust UN sanctions and to apply its own unilateral economic measures to curb North Korea’s nuclear antics.
Pushing his point, Kerry said, there’s room for the international community to get tougher with Pyongyang.
“With all due respect, more significant and impactful sanctions were put in place against Iran, which did not have a nuclear weapon than against North Korea, which does,” he said.
Then challenging China further, Kerry said, “All nations, particularly those who seek a global leadership role, or have a global leadership role, have a responsibility to deal with this threat.”
But Wang called China’s response to North Korea’s nuclear activity “clear cut” and “responsible.”
“Our position will not be swayed by events or temporary mood of the moment,” he said. “We have delivered on our obligation.”
Tensions were visible between the two on the South China Sea, where a territorial dispute pits multiple countries against each other.
China has embarked on a massive land reclamation program, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses, but Wang said China honored President Xi’s commitment not to militarize the South China Sea — made while he visited the White House in September.
He said that China had built civil installations and some necessary facilities for self defense.
“The international law has given all sovereign countries the right to self defense.”