Chinese President Xi Jinping used his first speech since taking over to indirectly call out North Korea for being so prickly lately. He never mentioned the country by name, but it's pretty clear who he was referring to.
Xi's remarks came in the middle of a speech to foreign dignitaries that focused primarily on China's economic strength. But Xi also chastised Pyongang for attempting to destabilize the Korean peninsula. Without specifying a country, Xi said no one "should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain." Stability in Asia "faces new challenges, as hot spot issues keep emerging and both traditional and non-traditional security threats exist," he said. Given everything that's happened recently, it seems pretty clear which country Xi was speaking to.
If Xi's remarks aren't a clear indication of how tired China's become with North Korea's posturing, statements made by foreign minister Wang Yi when speaking with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should eliminate any doubt. "We oppose provocative words and actions from any party in the region and do not allow trouble making on China's doorstep," Wang said.
These remarks from China are especially significant because China is North Korea's sole financial and diplomatic backer. If anyone can get North Korea to calm down, it presumably would be China. When your benefactor is this mad at you, and you're broke, that can be problematic.
In case you've been under a rock, North Korea has been ramping up threats of an attack on either the U.S. or South Korea over the last few weeks. Observers seem to believe the threat of an attack is slim and that the country is merely trying to force the two countries to negotiate eliminating some of the crippling sanctions facing the country. They recently told foreign embassy workers stationed in North Korea to evacuate because of the imminent threat of an attack. So far, few countries have taken their advice. Now we need to wait and see if North Korea is smart enough to listen to China.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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