North Korea has reportedly directed rare and harsh criticism at China, its major international ally, accusing Beijing of giving in to the United States’ demands by tightening its own sanctions against Pyongyang.
Without directly mentioning China, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a statement on Thursday that “a neighboring country,” which often claims to be a “friendly neighbor,” was abandoning Pyongyang in favor of the US, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
“This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the US,” the statement reportedly read.
China, North Korea’s key economic benefactor, announced on Sunday that it would suspend all coal imports from North Korea until the end of this year. China’s Ministry of Commerce said it took the measure in line with the punitive sanctions imposed last year by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests.
In a direct reference to the ban, the KCNA reportedly said that Beijing had “unhesitatingly taken inhumane steps” to comply with UN sanctions and was now “defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of North Koreans, but to check its nuclear program.”
China, a permanent member of the UNSC, often backs North Korea but has had its own reservations about Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.
The North faces international pressure to abandon its arms development and nuclear program. Yet, it says the programs are meant to protect the country from US hostility.
The KCNA reportedly said in the statement that “it is utterly childish to think that [North Korea] would not manufacture nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic rockets if a few [pennies] of money is cut off,” apparently referring to the revenue that would have come from the coal exports to China.
The US has military forces in South Korea — a long-time adversary of the North — and is planning to deploy an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from Pyongyang. The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.