China has turned down calls by the United States to confront North Korea, saying the handling of Pyongyang’s nuclear program does not concern Beijing.
The response came after US President Donald Trump said China could intervene in North Korea’s affairs and solve what he called the national security challenge posed by the country.
Responding to Trump's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, "We have said many times already that the crux of the North Korean nuclear issue is the problem between the United States and North Korea.”
“We hope the relevant parties can shoulder their responsibilities, play the role they should, and together with China play a constructive role for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and for its denuclearization.”
China's official Xinhua news agency also rejected comments by Washington, saying Beijing’s influence on North Korea had been exaggerated.
"The Trump White House needs to make the first move and talk to Pyongyang. The United States stands to lose nothing for trying this," the news agency noted.
The remarks are made while Beijing, which is North Korea's only ally and main trading partner, has so far shown itself reluctant to put too much pressure on Pyongyang over its previous series of ballistic and nuclear missile tests.
China, however, has insisted that it is dedicated to enforcing United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
Last week, China suspended imports of North Korean coal in line with punitive sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council against Pyongyang over its recent missile and nuclear tests.
On February 13, South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced that its northern neighbor had launched a new missile test near the western city of Kusong, adding that the missile had flown 500 kilometers eastwards before falling into the Sea of Japan.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) confirmed a day later that Pyongyang had “successfully” tested a “surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile.”
Pyongyang, already under a raft of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against the United States. It says it will not abandon the missile and nuclear programs unless the US ends its hostility toward Pyongyang.
The US has military forces in South Korea and is planning to deploy an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from the North. The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.