China on Thursday said it backed further measures against North Korea, although Chinese analysts doubted Beijing would support tough new sanctions being proposed by the United States.
The US is seeking an oil embargo, a ban on the textiles trade and a freeze on the assets of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in what would be the harshest measures yet aimed at confronting Pyongyang’s military build-up.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said: “Given the new developments on the Korean peninsula, China agrees that the UN Security Council should respond further by taking necessary measures.”
However, the oil embargo is likely be a major source of contention between Beijing and Washington, given that China supplies nearly all of North Korea’s oil through an ageing pipe passing through the border between the two countries.
Beijing has backed existing sanctions on coal, iron ore and seafood, but insists that the crisis can only be resolved through negotiations.
China believes that in turning off the oil taps, the North Korea state could collapse, forcing a flood of refugees into its north-eastern provinces and the possibility of a new pro-US-regime on its doorstep.