The last few days have seen the unprecedented war of words between China and North Korea escalate dramatically. Following China's non-veiled final threats of sanctions (or oil embargoes) unless North Korea de-escalates with US (and embassy calls for Chinese citizens to return home from North Korea), North Korea struck back with claims of "betrayal" and threats of "grave consequences," The Global Times, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, then hit back on Thursday, dismissing Pyongyang’s broadside as a “hyper-aggressive” move motivated by “nationalist passion” and “irrational logic”.
As The South China Morning Post reports, China’s foreign ministry also weighed in on Thursday with comments suggesting that bilateral ties would not be affected by the spat.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China’s stance on North Korea’s nuclear development and its ties with Pyongyang were “consistent”.
Analysts said that although North Korea constantly engaged in sabre-rattling with Washington and Seoul, it usually held off from direct verbal attacks on Beijing, its traditional diplomatic and economic backer.
They said the escalating rhetoric between the two neighbours showed Beijing’s “strategic patience” with Pyongyang was rapidly running out.
“I’ve never seen such a direct attack on China by North Korea’s state media and it shows their relations have plunged to a historical low,” said Cui Zhiying, a Korean affairs analyst at Shanghai’s Tongji University.
North Korea’s ties with China, Pyongyang’s top trade partner and provider of economic aid, have taken a major dive since Beijing slapped a sweeping ban on coal imports from North Korea in February.
The Global Times has published at least 11 editorials dedicated to North Korea’s nuclear threats since North Korea’s failed ballistic missile test on April 16.
Zhang Liangui, a professor of international strategic research at the Communist Party’s Central Party School, said the Chinese people had long appealed for a tougher stand on North Korea but top leaders in Beijing were still grappling with whether to dump the regime of unruly North Korean leader Kim Jong-un despite the growing nuclear threats.
As we noted previously, the bottom line is that the window for threading a diplomatic solution, brokered by China, is closing rapidly...
"The DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China."