Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Zhang Jun on the UN Security Council Draft Resolution on the DPRK

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2022-05-26 20:35

Madam President,

The Chinese delegation has voted against the draft Security Council resolution tabled by the US that is intended to impose additional sanctions on the DPRK. This is a prudent decision made by China after weighing repeatedly the pros and cons based on its consistent position on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, comprehensively analyzing the circumstances surrounding the current escalation of tensions on the peninsula, and fully taking into account the negative consequences that may arise once the draft resolution is adopted, including the negative impact on the DPRK’s domestic response to COVID-19.

As a close neighbor of the peninsula, China is highly concerned about the situation there, and has always insisted on maintaining the peace and stability on the peninsula, denuclearize the peninsula, and resolving issues through consultation. For a long time, China has been making unremitting efforts to this end. Lately, faced with the persistent tension on the peninsula, China has been calling on all parties to exercise calm and restraint, and to desist from actions that could increase tensions and lead to miscalculations. On this issue, the Council should play a positive and constructive role, and its actions should help de-escalate the situation and prevent it from deteriorating or even getting out of control.

The peninsula issue, with its ups and downs, has been protracted for decades. Facts have repeatedly proven that dialogue and negotiations are the only viable way to solve the problem. The US, as a main stakeholder in the peninsula question, is directly responsible for promoting dialogue and negotiations. In 2018, the DPRK took a series of measures to denuclearize and de-escalate the situation, and the leaders of the DPRK and the US met in Singapore, where they reached important consensus on establishing a new type of DPRK-US relations, including a peace mechanism on the peninsula, and advancing the denuclearization process on the peninsula. Regrettably, the US side did not reciprocate the DPRK’s positive initiatives in accordance with the action-for-action principle. The DPRK-US dialogue continues to be stalled, so is the denuclearization process, with tensions on the peninsula continue to rise. The situation on the peninsula has developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip flop of the US policies, and its failure to uphold the results of previous dialogue. This is an undeniable fact.

Facts have also shown that reliance on sanctions will not help resolve the peninsula issue. Security Council sanctions are a means, not an end. The Council has so far adopted 10 sanctions resolutions against the DPRK, establishing thereby the harshest and the most complex sanctions regime, while also setting out the right direction of solving the peninsula issue through dialogue. It is the consistent belief of China that the Security Council resolutions on the DPRK are an integral whole, and should be implemented in a comprehensive, complete, and accurate manner. The countries concerned should not place one-sided emphasis on the implementation of sanctions alone, but should also work to promote a political solution and ease sanctions where appropriate. The starting point of the draft resolution on the DPRK jointly proposed by China and Russia in the Council is to alleviate the humanitarian and livelihood difficulties of the DPRK, and to inject momentum into the political settlement on the peninsula. In the current situation, additional sanctions against the DPRK will not help resolve the problem, but only lead to more negative effects and escalation of confrontation. Additional sanctions will also have a greater humanitarian impact, especially against the backdrop of emerging COVID-19 in the DPRK. Additional sanctions against the DPRK will only add to the misery of the DPRK people, and in this sense, neither right nor humane. According to the draft resolution by the US, the supply of crude oil and refined petroleum products to the DPRK will be reduced by 25% each. The DPRK’s export of related products will be further restricted. These measures have no relevance to the settlement of the nuclear issue on the peninsula, and the only conceivable result is to sever the lifeline of the DPRK population and aggravate their plight. It is obviously self-contradictory to push for increasing sanctions against the DPRK while claiming to be willing to provide humanitarian assistance. China does not endorse such an approach.

China attaches great importance to the unity and cooperation of the Council. In order to reduce the tensions and reflect the constructive role of the Security Council, China has always called on all parties to adopt a cooperative attitude on the peninsula issue. We support the necessary actions by the Council. And the goal should be to promote dialogue and negotiations, and create a favorable environment for political solution. In response to the draft US resolution, China has repeatedly expressed its hope that the United States will consider replacing the resolution with a presidential statement, in a way that best garners the consensus of the Council members, and avoid creating confrontation. That approach is recognized by most of the Council members, with only the United States being negative about it. The US side insisted that the Council should take actions if the DPRK launches an ICBM again, as stipulated in previous Security Council resolutions. But what kind of actions the Council will take should be decided through consultations, not dictated by a single member. Under the current circumstances, the Council should consider what is really impeding peace and stability on the peninsula, and should be concerned about the real livelihood difficulties facing the DPRK people, so as to inject impetus to resolving the peninsula issue. We call on the Security Council to play an active role in providing humanitarian and anti-epidemic assistance to the DPRK, rather than creating obstacles. Regrettably, China’s reasonable proposal was rejected. Under these circumstances, we had no choice but to vote against the draft resolution.

Madam President,

Peace and stability on the Korean peninsula are related to the common interests of regional countries, and therefore require joint efforts by all countries. The security of all countries is indivisible, and the security of one country cannot be based on the insecurity of other countries. The developments on the peninsula to what it is today merit our reflection. Recently, the US has been vigorously promoting the Indo-Pacific strategy, which is necessarily linked to the latest developments on the peninsula. The US has been promoting nuclear submarine cooperation with relevant countries, a practice that poses serious nuclear proliferation risks. It has been developing with much fanfare offensive weapons systems such as hypersonic weapons, and selling cruise missiles to other countries that can carry nuclear warheads, seriously undermining the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The US also continues to promote and expand military exercises, strengthen military alliances with relevant countries in the region, and create exclusive small circles. A certain politician of an individual country has been making frequent pro-nuclear statements, and advocating nuclear sharing with the US. These moves have all sent wrong signals and negatively impacted the resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue. We advise the countries concerned to put the international and regional peace and security first, abandon the Cold-War mentality, and not to travel further and further down the wrong path.

The situation on the peninsula is at a dangerous juncture. China once again calls on all parties to exercise calm and restraint, and calls on the US side to seriously reflect on its policy towards the DPRK, adhere to the general direction of political settlement, take meaningful actions to respond to the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the DPRK, and create conditions for the de-escalation of the situation and the resumption of dialogue and negotiations. China will continue to play a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula and realizing its denuclearization.

Thank you, Madam President.

(After the statements by other countries, Ambassador Zhang Jun made the following statement:)

The representative of the United States, in her earlier statement, leveled a slew of accusations against China’s position, which was echoed by a non-Council member. China categorically rejects these accusations.

We must point out those accusations have no leg to stand on whatsoever. China has been a responsible member of the Council, engaging in the Council’s work responsibly, and working hard to maintain the unity of the Council. We have been facilitating greater cooperation within the Council to fulfill its mandate enshrined in the UN Charter. Such is the weight of the Security Council mandate, that each and every decision made in this chamber has profound and far-reaching implications. It is precisely because of this that China has been extremely prudent and responsible when casting its vote whenever a decision is put to a vote. It warrants stating that voting in favor or against something or abstaining from a vote is the prerogative of China as a member of the Security Council. China’s position is independently self-determined, and it does not have to be aligned with that of the United States. Not to mention such alignment is not required in the Council’s rules of procedure. China’s voting position is based on our assessment as to whether a proposal contributes to a solution, whether it helps maintain international and regional peace and security, and whether it can head off greater tensions or a bigger disaster. These, in fact, also constitute an important yardstick by which to measure the Council’s work. The function of the Council is not that of adopting resolution after resolution, making statement after statement, to assert its authority through sanctions and the use of force. In fact, if we adopt certain resolutions with no regard for principles that lead to dire consequences and land the sanctioned countries and territories in catastrophes, it will be nothing but an act of irresponsibility and dereliction of duty. In this regard, it is useful to reflect upon the tragedies that are playing out in Libya and other places, in respect of which this Council has some painful lessons that provide much food for thought with the benefit of hindsight.

The reason why today’s draft resolution failed to pass is very clear. It is not China’s fault at all. If the US had accepted the proposals of China and some other members of the Council, this situation could have easily been avoided. In fact, perhaps some people wanted nothing but this situation based on their cynical intentions.

China is a close neighbor of the Korean peninsula. The Peninsula’s peace and stability is a matter of international peace and security, and a matter of China’s own security. In order to defend the peninsula’s peace and stability, China must discharge its own responsibility. And we shall continue working to this end, that is, safeguarding the peace and security of the peninsula, denuclearizing the peninsula, and promoting political solution to the issue of the peninsula.

(After the statement by the US Permanent Representative again, Ambassador Zhang Jun made the following statement:)

In my EoV and supplemental intervention, I gave a comprehensive explanation of China’s position. I only want to further point out that the US Representative enumerated many reasons to illustrate that US position has not changed. However. If we look back on the past period, what the senior officials of the United States said, what they did, including during the visit to Northeast Asia, these point to the fact that the way the US approaches the Korean peninsula issue is going through changes. These changes are the very factors that have led to today’s complex situation. How should we go about solving the Korean peninsula issue? The key does not lie with this Council adopting or not adopting a new resolution. The crux of the matter is whether or not someone wants to use the Korean peninsula issue as a card for its so-called Indo-Pacific strategy, whether or not they want to use the handling of the Korean peninsula issue as a chessman on the chessboard for their so-called Indo-Pacific strategy. That’s the very nature of the issue. At the end of the day, as far as China is concerned, we are consistently of the view for a political solution of the issue, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and maintaining its peace and stability. This position has not changed. If other countries’ positions have not changed, it is perfectly possible for us to work in the same direction and join hands to seek peace and stability of the peninsula. However, if some people are making other plans deep down with the objective to spread the flames of war to Northeast Asia, to the Korean peninsula, then China would have no choice but to take stern and firm initiatives to defend the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and that of Asia Pacific, because that is what we have to do in order to fulfill our due responsibility.


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