BEIJING — EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expressed concern Thursday about rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and said China and Europe have a common responsibility to avoid a military escalation on the Korean Peninsula.
In a speech at Tsinghua University on her final day of a three-day trip to Beijing, Mogherini warned of the worldwide implications of a crisis on the peninsula.
“Everyone understands that the crisis with North Korea will have a global fallout,” she told students at the prestigious school that has produced many of China’s top leaders.
Mogherini said a remark from her 12-year-old daughter that China was in a region threatened by nuclear war underscored the importance of joint action to prevent the situation from further deteriorating.
“If a 12-year-old in Europe understands the risks of an escalation, (in) such a faraway place from home, it is quite self-evident that we have common responsibilities,” she said.
Mogherini said she discussed the issue of North Korea at length during her talks with Chinese officials in Beijing.
She said China and the EU had a “common responsibility and an interest to avoid a military escalation in the Korean Peninsula, to push for North Korea to abide by its international obligations and re-engage with the international community, and work together for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.”
North Korea’s acceleration of its nuclear weapons program to the point where it may become capable of striking the U.S. is seen as pushing the peninsula toward its most severe crisis in years.
President Donald Trump has called for Beijing to use its influence as Pyongyang’s most important trading partner and ally to pressure North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile programs.
But Pyongyang has pressed ahead with missile launches and has been observed making preparations to test a sixth nuclear device.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday on board an aircraft carrier in Tokyo Bay that any use of conventional or nuclear weapons by North Korea would be met with an “overwhelming and effective” response by the U.S. military.
China’s Li says EU and China must promote free and fair trade
China and the European Union should promote a “positive signal” of economic globalization and free and fair trade, Premier Li Keqiang told the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini.
Some European officials say that China has launched a charm offensive with the EU since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, in an effort to find allies amid fears Trump could undermine it with his protectionist “America First” policies.
“China and the EU, as two great forces in the world, should…respond to global challenges, reform and improve the international governance system, [and] promote a positive signal of economic globalization and free and fair trade,” Li told Mogherini on Tuesday, according to a statement on China’s Foreign Ministry website on Wednesday.
The two sides should “respond to changes and uncertainty in the international situation with the cooperation and stability of China-EU relations,” he said to Mogherini, who is visiting China for a China-EU strategic dialogue.
Speaking to reporters later on Wednesday, Mogherini said both would support the World Trade Organization.
“We both recognize the need of support for WTO and to avoid any protectionist policy or attitude,” she said.
Standing next to Mogherini, China’s top diplomat State Councillor Yang Jiechi said China values its relations with the EU.
“No matter how the situation in Europe will change, China will always firmly support the path of integration that the EU has chosen,” Yang said.
The Chinese statement on the earlier meeting with Li cited Mogherini as saying that China and the EU shoulder the duty to safeguard international order, respond to terrorism and climate change and other global challenges.
Europe’s climate commissioner said last month that China and the EU could not expect the same leadership from the Trump administration, after the U.S. president moved to undo the climate change regulations of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
But the EU remains cautious about the direction of its second-largest trading partner, concerned by China’s massive steel exports, its militarization of islands in the South China Sea and a turn towards greater authoritarianism under President Xi Jinping.
Xi has made a vigorous defense of globalization and painted a picture of China as a “wide open” economy, but foreign business groups complain vociferously that China discriminates against them with policies that limit their access to the Chinese market and support domestic competitors.
The EU is looking to conclude a bilateral investment treaty with Beijing which would make it easier for European companies to do business in China.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd and Michael Martina; Editing by Sam Holmes and Toby Chopra)
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