China and Russia take a nuanced approach to North Korea after missile flew over Japan

China and Russia take a nuanced approach to North Korea after missile flew over Japan

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

North Korea was rebuked rapidly by America, Japan, and South Korea after a missile flew over Hokkaido in northern Japan. However, China and the Russian Federation, while condemning North Korea’s approach to the ongoing crisis, partly blamed the joint-military maneuvers of America and South Korea. After all, with recent tensions appearing to calm a little prior to the missile launch that flew over Japan, then surely America and South Korea should have at least toned down the joint-military maneuvers.

The issue isn’t about “rights and wrongs” because China and the Russian Federation don’t agree with North Korea’s continuing recklessness. This equally applies to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and the current upgrading of various missiles of mass destruction. Yet, China and the Russian Federation knew full well that North Korea would respond to a certain degree to the joint-military maneuvers of America and South Korea – especially given the current heightened tensions between America and North Korea.

Sergei Ryabkov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, stated strongly that sanctions and the threat of military resolve equate to “a path to nowhere; a path to catastrophe.”

China equally takes a similar approach. Indeed, the THAAD missile system deployed by America in South Korea is still irking the political elites of the Chinese Communist Party.

Of course, for citizens in northern Japan, the suspected Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile fired by North Korea over Hokkaido is a clear provocation. Hence, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said, This is a serious threat that is at a different level from before. It is obvious North Korea is not ready to talk. Now is the time to step up pressure on the country.”

However, despite the natural condemnations of America, Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN nations aimed at North Korea, the fact remains that China and the Russian Federation have important roles to be played. Also, Japan can not blindly ignore the concerns of China in relation to THAAD in South Korea, nor that North Korea will ignore joint-military maneuvers by America and Japan in northern Japan – and ongoing military maneuvers between America and South Korea that are intimidating North Korea.

The BBC reports, “US and Japanese forces recently held a joint drill in Hokkaido while another annual exercise involving tens of thousands of South Korean and US military personnel is still under way in South Korea.”

Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, is urging restraint and to focus on a double freeze aimed at all sides in the crisis. Lavrov said, “If this double freezing finally takes place, then we can sit down and start from the very beginning – to sign a paper which will stress respect for the sovereignty of all those parties involved, including North Korea”

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, This double freeze relates to a plan formulated by China and the Russian Federation, whereby related players would abide by conditions that would reduce military tensions. In other words, political and military elites in Pyongyang would abide by putting a freeze on its missile tests – while the governments of America and South Korea would relent on major military exercises by imposing a genuine moratorium.”

Hence, while citizens in northern Japan – and throughout the country – are rightly concerned by the militant approach being taken by North Korea. It is equally true that they should question the logic of actions being taken by all sides on the Korean Peninsula and further afield in northeast Asia.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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