N.K.’s direct criticism against China is rare move: Seoul

SEOUL-- South Korea's unification ministry said Thursday that it was rare for North Korea to directly criticize China, one day after Pyongyang claimed that Beijing is undermining their ties by implementing sanctions.

North Korea's state media said in a commentary issued in the name of Kim Chol on Wednesday that China has crossed the red line of their bilateral ties by pushing for tougher sanctions, saying that Pyongyang will never beg for Beijing's friendship.

The Ministry of Unification said that the North made a "rare" direct condemnation of China, given that previously Pyongyang used the term "a neighboring country" when criticizing Beijing.

"North Korea seemed to show a strong reaction as China has joined other nations' move to send a message against its nuclear and missile provocations," said a ministry official, asking not to be named. "Pyongyang needs to pay attention to this message."

The official also added that North Korea appeared to adjust its level of criticism by using what appears to be the pen name of Kim Chol.

China is North Korea's key economic benefactor and treaty ally, but their ties have been frayed following North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.

In February, North Korea condemned China over its decision to halt imports of North Korean coal, saying that Beijing is "dancing to the tune of the U.S.," referring to China's implementation of the U.N. sanctions.

At that time, the KCNA said that a neighboring country that often claims itself to be a "friendly neighbor" is showing an unkind attitude toward North Korea, apparently referring to China.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said that North Korea showed strong complaints over China's cooperation with the U.S. in employing sanctions against the North.

"North Korea is expected to try to strengthen its ties with Russia while seeking to intentionally ignore China. If a new administration takes office in South Korea, Pyongyang is likely to aggressively make a peace offensive toward the South," he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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