China on Thursday said global pressure has forced North Korea to step up its ballistic missile tests this year. The comments come amid speculations that North Korea is likely to conduct yet another weapon’s test as a challenge to the US and its allies, reports Efe news agency. “After so many years of involvement, the Korean peninsula issue can be resolved through dialogue and consultation and it is because of the pressure and assumptions of third parties that North Korea has been forced to conduct missile tests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press conference.
Pyongyang has launched 11 missiles this year, and tested at least 17 artillery pieces, according to military experts. “China is not to blame for the root causes of this issue as we are always committed to working with the international community to properly resolve this issue through dialogue and consultation,” Lu added. On Wednesday, Lu had criticised the unilateral sanctions approved by the US Congress on North Korea, which Beijing fears will have an indirect impact on Chinese companies as the country is the main trading partner of the Kim Jong-un regime.
On Wednesday, the spokesperson had also said China firmly opposes any action that may heighten tension in the region. Meanwhile, the deadline set by South Korea for talks with its neighbour in the demilitarised zone separating the two countries expires on Thursday although the Chinese spokesperson denied there was any such deadline and urged the two Koreas to keep the channels of negotiation open.