December 14, 2016 / 11:10 AM / 8 months ago

China tells Japan it opposes unilateral North Korea sanctions

A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014.Denis Balibouse/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is willing to work with the international community to fully implement U.N. resolutions on North Korea, but opposes any unilateral sanctions outside that framework, a senior Chinese diplomat told Japan on Wednesday.

Japan and South Korea said this month they would impose new unilateral sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, following a new U.N. Security Council resolution imposed on the reclusive country.

North Korea has rejected the U.N. resolution, aimed at cutting its annual export revenue by a quarter after its fifth and largest nuclear test in September.

It says the resolution is a conspiracy hatched by the United States to deny its sovereignty.

Both South Korea and Japan already have comprehensive unilateral sanctions in place against North Korea.

Speaking by telephone to Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau at Japan's foreign ministry, China's special envoy for the Korean peninsula Wu Dawei said China had always pushed for denuclearisation via talks.

"China is willing, along with the international community, to fully and completely enforce Security Council resolutions, and opposes unilateral sanctions imposed outside the framework of Security Council resolutions," China's Foreign Ministry cited Wu as saying.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive. All sides should work hard together to maintain the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," Wu said.

China also hopes all parties can create conditions for the early resumption of a six-party talks process, he said, referring to a stalled dialogue mechanism involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, the United States and Russia.

China is North Korea's sole major ally though their relations have been seriously strained by North Korea's repeated missile and nuclear tests.

While China has signed up for several rounds of U.N. sanctions it has repeatedly said civilians and normal trade contacts should not be affected.

China has long feared that cutting off North Korea completely could lead to its collapse, pushing waves of refugees into China's poor northeast.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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