China urged the United States and North Korea on Friday to be patient and “show goodwill” after US President Donald Trump cancelled his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
China had backed the summit, though analysts suggested that Beijing was likely worried that Trump and Kim could end up striking a deal that would harm its strategic interests in the region.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang noted that both Trump and North Korea still left the door open to holding talks after the US leader scrapped his meeting with Kim on June 12 in Singapore.
“The recent easing situation on the peninsula is hard won, the political settlement process is faced with a rare historic opportunity,” Lu told a regular press conference.
“We believe as the parties directly engaged on the issue, the summit of North Korea and US can play a crucial role for promoting the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” Lu said.
“Under the current circumstances we hope both North Korea and the US can cherish the recent positive progress, stay patient, show goodwill, move in the same direction and continue to stay committed to promoting the denuclearisation of the peninsula.”
Beijing’s relations with Pyongyang, its traditional ally, had been strained by the nuclear crisis, with China backing a slew of United Nations sanctions following the North’s atomic and missile tests.
But this year President Xi Jinping met twice with Kim within two months as they sought to repair ties. China remains Pyongyang’s main major ally and economic partner.
Trump suggested earlier this week, before cancelling the summit, that the veteran Chinese president may have had an influence on the younger North Korean autocrat, whose position apparently hardened after meeting Xi twice within a short period.
But Lu denied that China had any “ulterior motives”, stressing that Beijing was committed to denuclearisation of the peninsula, peace and resolving the issue through dialogue.
“Our position has never changed,” he said.
Lu also rejected the notion that China could use the North Korea issue as a bargaining chip in its trade negotiations with the United States.
“China’s position on China US trade is always consistent and above board,” he said.
China also welcomed Pyongyang’s announcement that it had completely dismantled its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the country’s northeast.
“From the TV we can see that the DPRK has taken concrete measures to dismantle the Punggye-ri nuclear test site,” Lu said, using the abbreviated version of the country’s official name.
“We believe it is of important significance to promoting the denuclearisation of the peninsula, we believe it is worth acknowledging and encouraging.”