BEIJING — China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.
The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy, experts said.
China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that idea Friday.
“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious in their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions.”
In an editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added. “If the U.S. 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.”
Thewarning comes at the end of a week of threats and counterthreats between Washington and Pyongyang, and as the United States weighs its options to deal with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.
The brinkmanship weighed on world financial markets for a fourth consecutive day. Main indexes were down in Frankfurt and Paris, and London’s FTSE 100 touched its lowest level since May. Asian markets also slumped, including South Korea’s KOSPI, dropping 1.8 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was largely flat after the opening bell.
On Tuesday, President Trump threatened to respond to further threats from North Korea by unleashing “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Pyongyang in turn threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific with ballistic missiles.