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Editorial: China must take concrete actions to enhance pressure on North Korea

To deter North Korea’s provocative actions through nuclear tests and missile launches, China’s substantial engagement on top of U.S. military pressure is indispensable.


The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has sent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to waters near the Korean Peninsula.


With about 90 warplanes on board, the Carl Vinson and its accompanying missile-carrying destroyers are an overwhelming strike force. The dispatch, which came following the U.S. missile attack on Syria for the suspected use of chemical weapons by the regime of President Bashar Assad, is aimed to show Pyongyang the U.S. readiness to take military action.


The policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea, which was pursued by the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, did not function adequately due to lack of pressure on the North. Changing that policy could have a certain effect in serving as a check on Pyongyang.


The foreign ministers’ meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations has adopted a joint statement, saying that North Korea’s nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches pose “new levels of challenges.”


The G-7’s sharing of the awareness of North Korean threats marks a crucial step toward buttressing the international community’s encirclement around the country.


More important is to incorporate China definitely into this encirclement.


During their meeting, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed to urge China to play a greater role in applying pressure on Pyongyang.


Reckless actions futile


China has various and powerful means of sanctioning North Korea, including restrictions on crude oil supply, trade and financial transactions. During the recent U.S.-China summit, Chinese leader Xi Jinping showed a negative stance toward ramping up pressure on Pyongyang. The international community, however, must persistently call for China to take concrete actions.


No doubt, U.S. military actions could be accompanied by big risks to both Japan and South Korea, including North Korea’s retaliatory attacks. Tokyo, Washington and Seoul need to exchange views sufficiently and come up with an effective strategy.


Commenting on the U.S. dispatch of the aircraft carrier, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry trumpeted its policy of continuing nuclear weapons development, saying, “We will take the toughest counterreaction against the provocations.”


The U.S. missile attack on Syria, a friendly nation for North Korea and with which North Korea has had a cooperative relationship in nuclear and missile development, could have come as a shock.


North Korea had repeated military provocations in anticipation of the United States taking no military action. Does Pyongyang intend to continue such reckless behavior?


Tuesday marked the fifth year since Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, became the supreme leader of North Korea. Landmark events are scheduled for this month in North Korea, including the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung and the memorial day of the establishment of the military.


Of concern is the possibility that the young North Korean leader with lack of experience will act recklessly in response to U.S. pressure. Pyongyang will gain nothing even if it resorts to such silly actions as conducting additional nuclear tests and test-firing a new type of long-range ballistic missiles.

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