China Calls For Urgent Talks On North Korea China is trying to ease tensions between North and South Korea. Chinese officials have called for an emergency meeting of envoys, and to further North Korean nuclear disarmament talks. This unusually active, intense and public degree of engagement by China, shows how alarmed Beijing is by the crisis.
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China Calls For Urgent Talks On North Korea

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China Calls For Urgent Talks On North Korea

China Calls For Urgent Talks On North Korea

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S: getting actively involved in trying to lower tensions. China wants to help the six nations that had been conducting talks about North Korea, to resume those talks. But as NPR's Louisa Lim reports, the response has not been positive, even from South Korea.

P: (Foreign language spoken)

LOUISA LIM: In his statement, President Lee Myung-bak called the North Korean attack a crime against humanity, and threatened further retaliation in the case of any further provocation. He didn't mention China's offer to broker talks at all. That proposal, by Pyongyang's closest ally, was made yesterday in a hastily arranged news conference by China's deputy foreign minister, Wu Dawei, speaking through an interpreter.

: (Through Translator) I would like to stress that although the proposed consultations do not mean the resumption of the six-party talks, we do hope they will help create conditions for the re-launch of the six-party talks.

LIM: Some have dismissed China's call as a face-saving measure. But Zhu Feng, at Peking University, says it represents a change in policy for Beijing.

: Such an emergency call for consultation show Beijing's new activism. I also see some sort of a Chinese dilemma. We are always embarrassed by some sort of failed balance between maintaining our traditional relations with Pyongyang, and how to address the very important concern about security and stability to South Korea, U.S. and the international community.

LIM: Beijing has so far failed to condemn North Korea's attack. But now, under intense international pressure, Beijing's engaging in a flurry of diplomacy. It's sent a senior Chinese official to meet the South Korean president, and is preparing to receive North Korea's parliamentary chief tomorrow. But calls for Beijing to rein in Pyongyang are little more than wishful thinking, according to North Korea expert Brian Myers, from Dongseo University.

: I think we tend to exaggerate China's influence over North Korea in order to rationalize our own inactivity. No country can have much of an influence on the domestic politics of an ultranationalist state.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS)

LIM: ...aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. George Washington has already left its homeport of Yokosuka near Tokyo.

LIM: As the U.S. aircraft carrier the George Washington takes part in massive military exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, what's interesting is that China hasn't protested more. Earlier this year, Beijing was livid when such exercises were suggested. Against a backdrop of growing nationalism, China's relative silence speaks volumes, according to Peking University's Zhu Feng.

: My interpretation is that it's some sort of signaling. If North Korea will continue to provoke such a - very recklessly, then Beijing will not show any support.

LIM: Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing.

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