China on Friday urged the US and North Korea to be patient and show goodwill, hours after American President Donald Trump cancelled a rare meeting with the Communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
Trump abruptly cancelled the summit scheduled in Singapore on June 12. Beijing had backed the summit and was possibly taken unawares with the cancellation following heated exchanges between Washington and Pyongyang this week.
Trump released a letter to announce the cancellation around the time when North Korea dismantled its nuclear testing site witnessed by a small group of international journalists.
“The recent easing situation on the peninsula is hard won, the political settlement process is faced with a rare historic opportunity,” Lu Kang, ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) spokesperson said at the regular ministry briefing on Friday.
With North Korea saying earlier in the day that it was ready for talks with the US any time, Lu noted that both countries had left the door ajar to holding talks.
“We believe as the parties directly engaged on the issue, the summit of the DPRK (North Korea is formally known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and US can play a crucial role for promoting the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” Lu said.
“Under the current circumstances we hope both the DPRK and the US can cherish the recent positive progress, stay patient, show goodwill, move in the same direction and continue to stay committed to promoting the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” he added.
Expectedly, China’s official statements through the MFA were adequately neutral about the cancellation and didn’t give any indication whether it would impact US-China ties recently strained over a looming trade dispute.
China is North Korea’s key ally and economic benefactor and is certain to have played a crucial role in the evolving ties between Washington and Pyongyang.
Kim met President Xi Jinping twice in less than 40 days as US-North Korea ties seemed to thaw.
“China actually has played the role of hidden guarantor for the North Korea-United States summit, so China will continue to promote this meeting,” Sun Xingjie, an expert on North Korea at the Jilin University, told the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, an official Communist Party of China paper.
“The renewed confrontation between the US and North Korea could threaten peace and stability on the peninsula. It would be wise for both sides to exercise a level of restraint and avoid using excessive action against one another,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times said in an editorial on Friday.
“Trump cancelled the June summit hours after North Korea had demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The time difference may have inspired Pyongyang to think Trump’s public announcement was delivered “on purpose” and could result in North Korea moving to its next anger phase,” it added.