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Editorial: Will China continue to do nothing about North Korea’s missile launches?

North Korea has fired another ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan ahead of the first summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

 

How should North Korea’s provocations and ongoing development of nuclear arms and missiles be dealt with? It can be said that this development has helped to clarify what Trump and Xi need to discuss in their talks.

 

In his statement issued after the latest missile launch, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.” The U.S. government has criticized North Korea each time it conducted nuclear tests or launched missiles. This statement is seen to indicate that the U.S. now believes that applying pressure verbally is useless.

 

The situation will not change unless the North Korea is dealt with sternly. The Trump administration is already looking at “all options” for the North Korea issue. We hope that in-depth discussions will be held with China on this matter.

 

There is no doubt that China has consistently backed North Korea, thereby rendering the economic sanctions ineffective. The question is the extent to which China can be pressured to change its attitude.

 

China will probably continue to insist on dialogue. However, the urgency of the situation may no longer allow such futile haggling.

 

This is because North Korea may engage in further provocations right away.

 

The large-scale U.S.-ROK military exercises that North Korea decries will continue until the end of this month. April 15 marks the 105th birthday of the late President Kim Il Sung, while April 25 is the 85th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People’s Army. All these are important dates.

 

Up until now, North Korea has had a tendency to show off its military prowess on such occasions. This cannot be overlooked.

 

There are also signs that it is preparing to carry out its sixth nuclear test.

 

We must remind ourselves again that North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles constitute a “clear and present danger.” Now is the time for Japan, the U.S., and the ROK to strengthen cooperation, put pressure on China, and promote the unity of the international community.

 

A new ROK administration will be inaugurated in May. We hope that the ROK will not cause a major gap in the response to this crisis until then. (Slightly abridged)

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