Australia calls on China to do more to contain North Korea

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (photo by AFP)
Australia has stressed that China can play a more effective role in containing the “threat” from North Korea’s missile and nuclear military programs.
“China is North Korea’s major financial backer. It has much more leverage over North Korea than it claims,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Radio National on Thursday.
She also confirmed reports that Pyongyang might launch another intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) later this week.
North Korea first tested such a missile on July 4, with an estimated range of 5,500 kilometers and capable of hitting Alaska.
Bishop said that Canberra, a Washington ally, sought to prevent Pyongyang from “advancing any further” through urging and supporting more sanctions on the North.
The ICBM launch, which has been perceived by the West and North Korea’s regional adversaries as a highly provocative move, came some ten months after Pyongyang carried out its fifth nuclear test. The North’s nuclear and missile programs have drawn harsh sanctions from the United Nations and the West since 2006.
China is opposed to a sanctions-only strategy regarding the North, also advocating dialog with Pyongyang. Beijing also rejects claims that it has oversize influence on North Korea, insisting that all parties pull their weight to resolve the matter.
Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated that the key to a resolution did not lie with Beijing.
“Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory.’ I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility,” he said.
This picture, taken on July 4, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 5, 2017, shows the successful test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location. (Via AFP)
Australia believes that if the North has attained the capability of hitting the US mainland, it also can pose a missile or nuclear threat against Australian territory.
Back in April, Pyongyang engaged in a war of words with Canberra over the South Pacific nation’s alliance with Washington, warning that the country was within striking range of North Korea.
The North’s fiery comments came a few days after Bishop criticized Pyongyang’s missile testing, supporting the US approach to keep all options on the table with regard to “curbing North Korea’s illegal and belligerent behavior.” Pyongyang lambasted Bishop’s “rubbish” remarks, saying, “What she uttered can never be pardoned as it is an act against peace that patronizes and shields the US extreme hostile policy” toward North Korea.
In her Thursday interview, Bishop, put further emphasis on China’s role in potentially convincing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
“The export relationship with North Korea, the provision of remittance to workers, the foreign investment flows, the technology flows... these are all in China’s hands,” she said.
North Korea regards the US as its main enemy. The US has adopted a war-like posture vis-à-vis Pyongyang and has permanent military presence in the region.
North Korea sees its missile and nuclear capabilities as a strong deterrent against potential US aggression.

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