U.S., China Agree To Cooperate on North Korea

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 13 2013 3:13 PM

U.S. And China Agree To Work Toward Nuclear Talks With North Korea

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Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing

Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Beijing to push China to increase pressure on its ally North Korea and received at least some rhetorical support. The two countries agreed to work toward restarting nuclear talks with North Korea with the ultimate goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, reports Reuters. At the same time though, Chinese leaders warned Washington against being overly aggressive in confronting Pyongyang, notes the Wall Street Journal. "There's no need to pick up a stone and hurt your own foot," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Kerry, according to Chinese state television.

Even though Kerry was eager to tout “our joint commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner,” words out of Beijing officials appeared to fall short of the public reprimand of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Washington was hoping for. And neither U.S. nor Chinese officials directly mentioned what is believed to be an imminent missile test by North Korea, instead choosing to focus on the long-term problem, points out the Associated Press.

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Although China is widely seen as the only country that has the power to exert some influence over North Korea, it seems clear the relationship between the two countries isn’t what it once was, notes the New York Times. There appears to be an ongoing debate within China’s ruling circles on how to best handle the young Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s. And some analysts believe it could push Beijing closer to Washington, points out the Los Angeles Times. “China may be at a tipping point with North Korea,’’ said Zhu Feng, a scholar at Peking University. “In 10 years, I haven’t seen a moment like this when China is reconsidering its North Korea policy.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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