BEIJING – China should stay neutral if North Korea initiates an armed conflict with the United States, but must prevent any attack by South Korea or the US, Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, said on Friday.
In its latest editorial, the Times acknowledged Beijing’s failure to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down, but must respond firmly if its regional interests are jeopardized by a possible conflict.
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” said the newspaper.
However, the Times reported that “if the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”
China will firmly resist any side which attempts to change the status quo of the areas where Chinese interests are present, added the editorial.
The Times further explained that although neither side really wants a war, continuous escalation of tensions “may lead to miscalculations and a strategic war.”
China, the main trading partner and historical ally of North Korea, has tried to maintain a neutral position in the current tension.
As a result it has been criticized by both Washington, which accuses Beijing of not putting enough pressure on North Korea, and Pyongyang, which considers China a traitor for supporting economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
Beijing does not approve of the North Korean nuclear and missile program, which it regards as an unnecessary source of regional tensions, but has also urged Washington to end its military drills with Seoul, held close to North Korean territory.