May 27 (Bloomberg) — Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is likely to resist pressure to acknowledge that North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship when he flies to Seoul tomorrow to meet President Lee Myung Bak and Japanâ€™s Yukio Hatoyama.
China hasnâ€™t followed South Korea, Japan and the U.S. in blaming North Korea for the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun yesterday repeated a call for â€œrestraintâ€ by both sides and said China had no â€œfirsthand informationâ€ on the sinking.
China wants to avoid a conflict on the Korean peninsula, and is concerned that taking South Koreaâ€™s side may provoke North Korea into further escalations and even lead to war, said Shen Dingli, vice dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Shanghaiâ€™s Fudan University.
â€œNorth Korea is dying, and we can make things worse,â€ Shen said. â€œWe have assumed North Korea is not a rational actor.â€
South Koreaâ€™s navy today began exercises off its western coast, including anti-submarine operations involving the firing of depth charges, a military official said. About 10 warships are participating in the two-day drill, the official said, asking not to be identified because of security concerns.
China has a big stake in stability in Northeast Asia. Japan and South Korea are Chinaâ€™s third- and fourth-biggest trading partners after the European Union and the U.S., with combined two-way trade reaching $485.1 billion in 2009, Chinese customs figures show.
To read more, visit: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=awElM7vM4Vq4&pid=20601087
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